Polyurethanes (PU) are widely used synthetic polymers. The growing amount of PU used industrially has resulted in a worldwide increase of plastic wastes. The related environmental pollution as well as the limited availability of the raw materials based on petrochemicals requires novel solutions for their efficient degradation and recycling. The degradation of the polyester PU Impranil DLN by the polyester hydrolases LC cutinase (LCC), TfCut2, Tcur1278 and Tcur0390 was analyzed using a turbidimetric assay. The highest hydrolysis rates were obtained with TfCut2 and Tcur0390. TfCut2 also showed a significantly higher substrate affinity for Impranil DLN than the other three enzymes, indicated by a higher adsorption constant K
. Significant weight losses of the solid thermoplastic polyester PU (TPU) Elastollan B85A-10 and C85A-10 were detected as a result of the enzymatic degradation by all four polyester hydrolases. Within a reaction time of 200 h at 70 °C, LCC caused weight losses of up to 4.9% and 4.1% of Elastollan B85A-10 and C85A-10, respectively. Gel permeation chromatography confirmed a preferential degradation of the larger polymer chains. Scanning electron microscopy revealed cracks at the surface of the TPU cubes as a result of enzymatic surface erosion. Analysis by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy indicated that the observed weight losses were a result of the cleavage of ester bonds of the polyester TPU.
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