Poly(ethylene 2,5-furanoate) (PEF) is arousing great interest as a biobased alternative to plastics like poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) due to its wide range of potential applications, such as food and beverage packaging, clothing, and in the car industry. In the present study, the hydrolysis of PEF powders of different molecular masses (Mn
= 55, Mw
= 104 kg/mol and Mn
= 18, Mw
= 29 kg/mol) and various particle sizes (180 < d and 180 < d < 425 µm) using cutinase 1 from Thermobifida cellulosilytica (Thc_cut1) was studied. Thereby, the effects of molecular mass, particle size and crystallinity on enzymatic hydrolysis were investigated. The results show that particles with lower molecular mass are hydrolyzed faster than those with higher masses, and that the higher the molecular mass, the lower the influence of the particle size on the hydrolysis. Furthermore, cutinases from Humicola insolens (HiC) and Thc_cut1 were compared with regard to their hydrolytic activity on amorphous PEF films (measured as release of 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) and weight loss) in different reaction media (1 M KPO pH 8, 0.1 M Tris-HCl pH 7) and at different temperatures (50 °C and 65 °C). A 100% hydrolysis of the PEF films was achieved after only 72 h of incubation with a HiC in 1 M KPO pH 8 at 65 °C. Moreover, the hydrolysis reaction was monitored by LC/TOF-MS analysis of the released reaction products and by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) examination of the polymer surfaces. Enzymatic hydrolysis of PEF with Thc_cut1 and HiC has potential for use in surface functionalization and recycling purposes.
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