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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Commodity Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #355983

Research Project: Developing Technologies that Enable Growth and Profitability in the Commercial Conversion of Sugarcane, Sweet Sorghum, and Energy Beets into Sugar, Advanced Biofuels, and Bioproducts

Location: Commodity Utilization Research

Title: Enzymatic Modification of Polymers

item Cheng, Huai

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The practice of agriculture generates a huge amount of biobased materials, such as polysaccharides, proteins, triglycerides, and lignin. Many of these materials are used as food or feed, but some of them are low-value byproducts or waste. One method to enhance their values, particularly for industrial applications, is to modify them in order to impart special properties for specific applications. Chemical modification methods are most often used, but there is increasing interest in enzymatic methods that are often more eco-friendly and efficient. This paper provides a review of the latest developments in enzymatic modifications of polymers, with special emphasis on biopolymers. The information given herein hopefully will serve to educate new comers, update people currently in the field, and inform those who are intrigued with post-harvest agricultural technology and green polymer chemistry.

Technical Abstract: In polymer applications and development it is often necessary to modify an existing polymer structure in order to impart special end-use properties. Whereas chemical modification methods are most commonly practiced, sometimes enzyme-catalyzed modifications may be desirable because of the specificity of the reactions, reduction in the byproducts produced, milder reaction conditions, and more benign environmental impact. A number of enzyme-catalyzed reactions are reviewed in this paper, covering primarily biobased materials like polysaccharides, proteins, triglycerides, and lignin. The enzymes used include mostly hydrolases, oxidoreductases, and transferases, with occasional involvement of lyases and isomerases. The types of reactions are diverse and include polymer hydrolysis and degradation, polymerization, oxidation, glycosylation, crosslinking, and transformation of functional groups. Because biopolymers are agro-based and occur abundantly in nature, they are often available in large quantities and amenable to enzymatic reactions. As such, the combination of biopolymers and enzymes represents a good product development opportunity and a useful tool for post-harvest agricultural technology and green polymer chemistry.