Table 3.

Analytical techniques and approaches that can be used to supplement physical test methods for assessing the biodegradability of polymers.

technique or approachapplicationreferences
surface hydrolysis measurementsmonitoring release of hydrogen ions during aerobic biodegradation to provide information concerning sample degradation by selected enzymes[108,109]
gas chromatography (GC) with flame ionization detection (GC-FID) or mass spectrometry (GC-MS)analysis of the oligomeric fraction formed during polymer degradation; detection of low-molecular-weight metabolites or degradation intermediates[110,111,112]
liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS)analysis of complex oligomeric mixtures during biodegradation[112]
gel-permeation chromatography (GPC)measurements of molar mass and shifts in molecular weight[105,113]
high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)identification of individual homologues of low-molecular-weight polymers[114]
nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopyanalysis of changes in polymer chain structure during degradation; monitoring biodegradation of soluble compounds released during incubation[112,115,116]
Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopyanalysis and quantification of specific functional groups (e.g. carboxylic and alcohol functional groups); carbonyl index measurement as a proxy of surface oxidation; monitoring of biofilm formation[100,117,118]