Enzyme catalysed modification of polymers

  • Nigel Overton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The aim of this project was to investigate the enzyme catalysed modification of synthetic polymers.
It was found that an immobilised lipase from Candida antartica (Novozyme 435) catalysed the selective epoxidation of poly(butadiene) in the presence of hydrogen peroxide and catalytic quantities of acetic acid. The cis and trans double bonds of the backbone were epoxidised in yields of up to 60 % whilst the pendent vinyl groups were untouched. The effect of varying a number of reaction parameters was investigated. These studies suggested that higher yields of epoxide could not be obtained because of the conformational properties of the partially epoxidised polymer.
Application of this process to the Baeyer-Villiger reaction of poly(vinyl phenyl ketone) and poly(vinyl methyl ketone) were unsuccessful. The lack of reactivity was found to be a property of the polymer rather than the enzymatic system employed.
Attempts to modify hydroxyl containing polymers and polymers bearing active esters close to the polymer backbone were unsuccessful. Steric factors appear to be the most important influence on the outcome of the reactions.
Date of AwardNov 1998
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnn Jarvie (Supervisor), Christopher B. St. Porcain (Supervisor) & Eric Smith (Supervisor)


  • enzyme
  • polymer modification
  • lipase
  • epoxidation and poly(butadiene)

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