Biopolymers are chain-like molecules made up of repeating chemical blocks and can be very long in length and are produced by living organisms and thus are biodegradable. Biopolymers can be classified in three groups, depending on the nature of the repeating unit they are made of;
- polysaccharides are made of sugars
- proteins of amino acids
- nucleic acids of nucleotides
Examples of biopolymers
- Nucleic acids
Biopolymers are complex molecules with biological activity. In contrast to synthetic polymers, which have a simpler and more random structure, biopolymers are complex molecular assemblies that adopt precise and defined 3D shapes and structures. This feature is essential because this is what makes biopolymers active molecules in vivo. Their defined shape and structure are indeed keys to their function.
Biopolymers are biodegradable polymers produced by living organisms. However, polymers that are synthesized chemically by humans from biological sources such as vegetable oils, fats, resins, sugars, proteins, and amino acids can also be described as biopolymers. Biodegradable polymers come from renewable resources that allow them to replace or substitute the fossil fuel–based polymers. Biodegradable biopolymers are usually synthesized from sugar, starch, or natural fibers.
In order to reduce the use of non-renewable resources and to minimize the environmental pollution caused by synthetic materials, the quest for utilizing biomaterials is on a rise. Biopolymers in nature are produced by a range of microorganisms and plants. Biopolymers produced by microorganisms require specific nutrients and controlled environmental conditions.
- Sugar based polymers, such as Polylactides, naturally degenerate in the human body without producing any harmful side effects. This is the reason why they are used for medical purposes. Polylactides are commonly used as surgical implants.
- Starch based biopolymers can be used for creating conventional plastic by extruding and injection molding.
- Biopolymers based on synthetic are used to manufacture substrate mats.
- Cellulose based Biopolymers, such as cellophane, are used as a packaging material.
- These chemical compounds can be used to make thin wrapping films, food trays and pellets for sending fragile goods by shipping.
- These polymers can reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and also decrease carbon emissions.
- It is also compostable which means there is less chance of environmental pollution from this compound. This is one of the primary advantages of this chemical compound. However, the materials composed from this compound are not compostable.
- These chemical compounds reduce dependency on non-renewable fossil fuels. These are easily biodegradable and can decrease air pollution. It greatly reduces the harmful effect of plastic use on the environment. Long term use of biopolymer use will limit the use of fossil fuel.
- Collagen based drug delivery systems
- Collagen sponges
- Collagen as hemostat
- Chitosan as drug delivery
- Chitosan as an antimicrobial agent
- Chitosan composite for tissue engineering
- Water purification