Friday, 5 February 2021

APPLICATIONS OF BIOPOLYMERS (#biopolymers)(#ipumisngs)(#biochemistry)(#biotechnology)

APPLICATIONS OF BIOPOLYMERS 

APPLICATION OF BIOPOLYMERS (#biopolymers)(#ipumisngs)(#biochemistry)(#biotechnology)

Biopolymers, due to its biocompatible and biodegradable nature, can be used to improve the performances of many biologically active molecules in a product. They can likewise be adjusted to suite different potential applications which include the following.


APPLICATION OF BIOPOLYMERS (#biopolymers)(#ipumisngs)(#biochemistry)(#biotechnology)


Synthesis of Nanomaterials

● Nanotechnology is the science of nanomaterials which deals with its synthesis, characterization, and applications. Researchers are currently focusing on developing more and more eco-friendly processes for the synthesis of nanoparticles. The principle center for the synthesis protocol has shifted from physical and chemical processes towards “green” chemistry and bioprocesses.

● Metal nanoparticles, because of their quantum size impacts, have different novel properties. However, most of their synthesis protocol imposes a significant danger to nature. In common synthetic methods, the reducing agents utilized which incorporate organic solvents and toxic-reducing agents like hydrazine, N-dimethylformamide, and sodium borohydride are viewed as highly harmful for the nature. All these chemicals are highly reactiveand pose potential environmental and biological risks. 

With the increasing interest in minimization/ elimination of waste and adoption of sustainable processes, the development of green chemistry approaches is desirable. Biopolymers have been broadly utilized as capping and reducing agent for the synthesis of various nanoparticles. Biopolymers like chitosan, heparin, soluble starch, cellulose, gelatin, PVA, PVP, etc can be utilized to supplant different harmful regents in synthesizing different nanoparticles. 


Biomedical applications

● In recent years, biopolymer materials have stimulated incredible intrigue due to their biomedical applications, for example, those in tissue engineering, pharmaceutical carriers, and medical devices.  A common biopolymer, gelatin, was widely applied in medicine for dressing wounds, as an adhesive,etc. Porous gelatin scaffolds and films were produced with the help of solvents or gases as simple porogens, which empower the scaffolds to hold drug or nutrients to be provided to the injury for mending. Electrospun PLGA-based platforms have been applied widely in biomedical engineering, for example, tissue engineering and drug-delivery system. MWCNT-incorporated electrospun nanofibers with high surface area-to-volume ratio and porous characteristics have also shown potential applications in many aspects of tissue engineering.

● Biomaterials composed of proteins, polysaccharides and artificial biopolymers are favored, but lack the mechanical properties and stability in the aqueous environment required for medical applications. Cross-linking improves the properties of the biomaterials, but most cross-linkers either cause undesirable changes to the functionality of the biopolymers or end in cytotoxicity. Glutaraldehyde, the most widely used cross-linking agent, is difficult to handle and contradictory views have been presented on the cytotoxicity of glutaraldehyde-crosslinked materials.


Food industry

● Replacing the oil-based packaging materials with biobased films and containers might give not only a competitive advantage because of more sustainable and greener image but also some improved technical properties. Biopolymers are currently utilized in food coatings, food packaging materials, and encapsulation matrices for functional foods. They provide unique solutions to reinforce product time period while also reducing the general carbon footprint associated with food packaging. In food-related applications, these bio-based materials are particularly useful in three main areas: food packaging, food coatings, and edible films for food and packaging. 

The most commercially viable materials in food packaging are certain biodegradable polyesters and thermoplastics like starch, PLA, PHA, and so on, which may be processed by conventional equipment. These materials are already utilized in variety of monolayer and multilayer applications within the food-packaging field. Starch and PLA biopolymers are potentially the foremost attractive sorts of biodegradable material. This is due to the balance of their properties and the fact that they have become commercially available. PLA is of particular interest in food packaging, because of its excellent transparency and comparatively good water resistance. The challenge for these specific biomaterials is to enhance their barrier and thermal properties in order that they perform like polyethylene terephthalate (PET). 

Other materials extracted from biomass resources, like proteins (e.g., zein), polysaccharides (e.g., chitosan),and lipids (e.g., waxes), even have excellent potential as gas and aroma barriers. The inherent high rigidity and the difficulty of processing them in conventional equipment are the main drawbacks of these types of materials. The hydrophilicity of most biopolymers will affect their use as high-end products. The absorption of moisture causes plasticization of those materials thereby deteriorating the barrier properties of those materials.


● Renewable polymers have also been used for encapsulation purposes. Encapsulation has previously been described as a technology to protect sensitive substances against the influences of adverse environments. The term “microencapsulation” refers to a defined method of wrapping solids, liquids, or gases in small capsules, which can release their contents under specific circumstances. Such technologies are of significant interest to the pharmaceutical sector. The increasing interest in edible films and coatings using biopolymers is due to their ability to incorporate a variety of functional ingredients. Plasticizers, such as glycerol, acetylated monoglycerides and polyethylene glycol, which are used to modify the mechanical properties of the film or coating, make significant changes to the barrier properties of the film.  However, the major advantage of coatings is that they can be used as a vehicle for incorporating natural or chemical active ingredients, such as antioxidants and antimicrobial agents, enzymes, or functional ingredients, like probiotics, minerals, and vitamins. These ingredients can be consumed with the food, thus enhancing safety, nutritional, and sensory attributes. In addition to preventing the loss of aroma, the edible film can also be used as a flavoring agent or aroma carrier.


● Chitosan has great potential as an antibacterial packaging agent, and can protect food from various microorganisms. Incorporating antimicrobial compounds into edible films or coatings provides a completely unique way to improve the security and time period of ready-to-eat foods. Lysozyme is one of the most frequently used antimicrobial enzymes in packaging materials, since it is a naturally occurring enzyme. Biopolymers such as amylose, when mixed with plasticizers have excellent potential in forming thin films for various food and packaging applications.Starch has high sensitivity to relative humidity (RH) due to its hydrophilic nature and this can be reduced by introducing plasticizers which enhances the flexibility of the matrix. But this system also has some limitations because of the complex interactions between the hydrophilic plasticizers and therefore the starch. An “anti-plasticization” process takes place with increased stiffness of the matrix if the structure of the plasticizer molecule and therefore the polymer matrix isn't compatible.


Packaging applications

● Currently, the foremost commercially viable materials in food packaging are certain biodegradable polyesters, which may be processed by conventional equipment. These materials are already utilized in variety of monolayer and multilayer applications within the food-packaging field. Among the foremost widely researched thermoplastics, the sustainable biopolymers utilized in monolayer packaging include starch, PHA, and PLA. Starch and PLA biopolymers are potentially the foremost attractive sorts of biodegradable material. This is due to the balance of their properties and the fact that they have become commercially available. The challenge for these specific biomaterials is to enhance their barrier and thermal properties in order that they perform like polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Other materials extracted from biomass resources, like proteins (e.g., zein), polysaccharides (e.g., chitosan), and lipids (e.g., waxes), even have excellent potential as gas and aroma barriers. The main drawbacks of these types of materials are their inherently high rigidity and the difficulty of processing them in conventional equipment.


● For bio-based food-packaging applications, the foremost important parameter to be considered is its barrier properties. Hydrophilic polymers usually have poor moisture resistance which cause water vapour transmission through packaging and thus affect the standard of foods. This results in shorter shelf lives, increased costs, and eventually more waste. Another technique to enhance the barrier properties of biopolymers is to feature various nanofillers like nanoclays, metal oxide nanoparticles, and so on. Among the bioplastics, polyglycolic acid (PGA) has excellent barrier properties thus it’s one among the foremost promising new commercially available barrier polymers. Its precursor, glycollic acid , can now be produced via a natural metabolic route, the glyoxylate cycle. 


Water purification

● Safe drinking water may be a significant, but simple indicator of development. Nanotechnology has shown promising developments in providing safe beverage through effective purifying mechanisms. Several nanomaterials have already proved to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Developing affordable materials which may constantly release these antibacterial materials like silver nanoparticles to water is an efficient way of providing microbially safe beverage for all. 

Developing various nanocomposites with functional materials which may scavenge various toxic metals like arsenic, lead, etc., from water along side the antibacterial agents may result in affordable water purifiers that can function without electricity.

The main challenge during this technology is developing stable materials which may release nanoparticles continuously overcoming the scaling on nanomaterials caused by various complex species present inside water.


● Safe water may be a significant, but simple indicator of development. Nanotechnology shows encouraging development in providing safe drinking water through effective purification mechanisms. Several nanomaterials have already proved to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Developing affordable materials which may constantly release these antibacterial materials like silver nanoparticles to water is an efficient way of providing microbially safe water for all. Developing various nanocomposites with functional materials which may scavenge various toxic metals like arsenic, lead, etc., from water along side the antibacterial agents may result in affordable water purifiers that can function without electricity. The main challenge during this technology is developing stable materials which may release nanoparticles continuously overcoming the scaling on nanomaterials caused by various complex species present inside water.


● Chelation is a process by which multiple binding sites along the polymer chain bind with the metal to form a metal cage like structure, to remove it from a solution. This property of chitosan together with its biodegradability make it an eminent candidate for treating difficult industrial storm water and waste water,  where conventional methods failed to reduce the contaminant levels. GO-biopolymer porous gel can effectively remove cationic dyes and heavy metal ions in wastewater. Nanocrystalline metal oxyhydroxide-chitosan particulate composite materials prepared by water route at near temperature are also effective in water purification. Combining various nanomaterials along side biopolymers can effectively restrict the formation of biofilms on the polymer surface.


References

1. Biopolymer-Based Nano Films: Applications in Food Packaging and Wound Healing

3. Biopolymers: Biomedical and Environmental Applications: 70 (Wiley-Scrivener)


About the Author:
Anubhav Raj is pursuing his BTech in Biochemical Engineering at University School of Chemical Technology, GGSIP University, Dwarka, Delhi. 





👉See Also:

The A - Z of BIOPOLYMERS 

Nanotechnology That Will Actually Make Your Life Better. 

 Food Packaging - Technology Used in Food Biotechnology 

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