What is Polyhydroxyalkanoate

“Biodegradation” is no longer a strange term for us, but many people’s understanding of this concept only stays at the level of “substances that can be naturally degraded into environmental harmlessly”, and can be biodegraded into CO2 and water by microorganisms. But biosynthetic polymers don’t just affect us environmentally, they affect our lives from a variety of perspectives, including the environmental, medical and energy sectors. Among them, widely used biodegradable materials mainly include PLA, PBS, PCL, PHB, PHA and so on. Now let’s focus on biodegradable materials – PHA.


What is Polyhydroxyalkanoate ?

Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is a kind of bio-polymer synthesized by microorganisms. PHA is an aliphatic copolyester with different structures synthesized by microorganisms through various carbon sources. PHA is widely found in nature, especially in wastewater treatment plants, agricultural and industrial Settings. It is commonly used as a carbon source by microorganisms and is polymerized to form polyhydroxyfatty acid ester (PHA resin), a biodegradable plastic material. Due to its unique properties and potential application value, PHA has become one of the research hotspots in the field of biotechnology.

Why is PHA so expensive?

PHA is a product with a different monomer structure, so there are many kinds of PHA.
There are PHA composed of short chain monomers, there are PHAs composed of medium and long chain monomers, and there are copolymers composed of different kinds of monomers.
The most common are PHB, polyhydroxyvalerate (PHV) and copolymer of PHB and PHV (PHBV).
Due to the wide variety of PHA monomers, the chain length between each other is very different, resulting in different PHA material properties are also very different.


PHA performance

As a natural polymer material, PHA certainly has the basic characteristics of common polymers, such as thermal plasticity or thermal processability.

At the same time, PHA also has some special material characteristics, such as nonlinear optical activity, piezoelectric property, gas barrier property, and its basic properties are similar to polypropylene.

As an important biological material, PHA also has two special properties:
(1) Good biodegradability;
(2) Good biocompatibility.

What is polyhydroxyalkanoate used for?

Because of the strange branch chains of PHA, this family also brings together a large number of excellent properties, and its potential application fields are also diverse.

1. Bioplastics

PHA is an ideal alternative to biodegradable plastics that can reduce the environmental impact of conventional plastics. It can be used to make a variety of plastic products, such as bags, tableware, packaging materials and so on.



2. Medical field

Due to its biocompatibility, PHA has a wide range of applications in the medical field, including biodegradable sutures, artificial bones, and drug delivery systems.

3. Sewage treatment field

PHA can be used in the field of sewage treatment as an effective biological flocculant for the treatment of organic waste and heavy metal ions in sewage.

4. Environmental remediation

PHA can be used for soil remediation because it can be degraded by microorganisms, thereby helping to remove harmful chemicals from the soil.

Degradation mode of PHA

PHA can be degraded by Marine degradation, industrial composting, household composting, etc.

1.Marine degradation: PHA has good degradation performance in the Marine environment. Many microorganisms and enzymes exist in the ocean that are capable of breaking down PHA materials. Studies have shown that PHA degrades relatively quickly in the ocean, typically in a matter of months to years. This makes PHA an environmentally friendly material choice that can reduce negative impacts on Marine ecosystems.


2.Industrial composting: PHA materials can be rapidly degraded by microorganisms in a suitable industrial composting environment. In industrial composting plants, PHA can be composted together with other organic waste. Under high temperatures, humidity, and proper oxygen supply, microbes break down the PHA material and convert it into water, carbon dioxide, and organic matter. This industrial composting method is an environmentally friendly treatment method that can realize the resource recycling of PHA.

3.Home composting: PHA materials can also be degraded by home composting. Home composting refers to the placement of organic waste (including PHA materials) in a home composter for composting. Under the right temperature, humidity, and ventilation conditions, microbes break down the PHA material and convert it into organic matter. This home composting method converts PHA material into organic fertilizer for plant growth while reducing waste generation.

In general, as a biosynthetic polymer, PHA has potential and application prospects in many fields such as environmental protection, medical and energy fields. With the progress of science and technology and the emergence of innovative methods, we believe that PHA will be able to bring more changes and benefits to our lives and the environment.

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Unilong®️ Group specializes in the research, development, production and operation of biological materials and green solvents. It is a high-tech enterprise integrating the research, development and production of new environmentally friendly and degradable materials.

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