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Year 12 Miss Hanna | Anthony Bekhit




Part 1
Use available evidence to gather and present data from secondary
sources and analyse progress in the recent development and use of a
named biopolymer. This analysis should name the specific enzyme(s)
used or organism used to synthesis the material and an evaluation on
the use or the potential use of the polymer produced related to its
As technology advances, so does the human race. In the past fossil fuels has
been very depended on for many things, such as the creation of polymers.
Although, there is a finite amount of fossil fuel in the world and it is known that
the supply will not last very long. As a result, scientists are developing
alternative options for the use of fossil fuels.
Crude oil was very depended on for the production of plastics. These plastics,
which are produced by petrochemicals, are non-biodegradable. Therefore making
this kind of plastics is very harmful to the environment, as the amount of these
unwanted plastics builds up and loiters rubbish tips without any decay or
decomposition. Consequently, research has begun into the production of synthetic
biopolymers and using them to create plastics, as its properties will make it
biodegradable and will reduce the necessity for non-biodegradable plastics.
A polymer is a long chemical chain formed from the repetition of numerous
monomer units. For these monomer units to form the polymer a small molecule
must be eliminated, generally this
molecule is water (H2O). The units may
be of the same chemical or different.
This is illustrated in figure 1.1, as it
Terephthalic acid and Ethylene Glycol
form and water molecules are removed,
forming Poly(Ethylene Terephthalate) or
more commonly known as PET.

Figure 1.1

How the Biopolymer is Produced

A biopolymer is a long chemical chain formed by the repetition of monomer
cells. These monomer cells are formed from renewable sources, such as plants
and micro-organisms, this allows for the biopolymer to be biodegradable and
biocompatible. One example is Biopol, which formed from two other biopolymers
Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and Polyhydroxyvalerate (PHV).Figure 1.2 shows PHB,
PHV and the copolymer of Biopol.

Biopol is synthetically produced through the use of the bacteria, Alcaligenes

Eutrophus, which is grow in tanks and feed a carbon based food source. The
polymer is followed by a purification step. This is done by first isolating the
polymer then dissolving it in Trichloromethane or a chlorinated hydrocarbon,
then precipitating and drying the Biopol once the waste solid has been removed.
Recently, industries have created more economical and efficient ways of
producing Biopol, of using biotechnology. Genes from the micro-organisms that
produce Biopol, such as the Alcaligenes Eutrophus, are taken and then inserted
into bacteria such as E. coli. This allows for the E. coli to produce Biopol. The use
of the bacteria E. coli allows cheaper food sources to be used to feed the
bacteria, such as whey, molasses and agricultural waste.
The advantages of using E. coli as the bacteria to make Biopol also include;
faster growth, easier recovery, better yields and less formation of waste biomass

Properties of the Biopolymer

Polypropylene is a polymer produced via the use of petrochemicals and its
properties allow for varied uses. However, polypropylene is not biodegradable,
leading to a large build-up of waste plastic. Consequently, Biopol is a very
desired and sort after biopolymer as its properties are similar to that of
polypropylene yet it is biodegradable as well as being biocompatible. These
properties include

Insoluble in water
Permeable to oxygen ( allows oxygen to pass through)
Impervious to UV light

Unresponsive to acids and bases

Soluble in chlorinated hydrocarbons (Trichloromethane)
High melting point ( 170 degrees)
High tensile strength
Higher density then water (unlike polypropylene which has a lower density
then water)

Uses of the Biopolymer

Bipol has an extensive field of use, ranging from medical applications to kitchen
utensils, and many other applications that have not been discovered. These uses

Medical applications such as surgical pins and sutures. Often there is no

polymer produced through petrochemicals that can replace this as they
are not biocompatible, meaning the body will not be reject or will react to
the Biopol. It is also biodegradable, indicating no surgery will be needed
for the removal of the pins or sutures. Other helpful properties for this use
are high tensile strength, non-toxicity and being insoluble in water.
Disposable containers for example shampoo and cosmetic containers.
Properties allowing Biopol to be useful for this are non-toxic, insoluble in
water, permeable to oxygen, biodegradable, high melting point and high
tensile strength.
Disposable items such as razors, rubbish bags, nappies and plastic
utensils. The useful properties that make it this useful are non-toxic,
biodegradable (will take about two years to decompose), impervious to UV
light, permeable to oxygen and insoluble in water.

There are various factors and criteria that need to be considered when
comparing Biopol to their petrochemical counterparts. These include the social,
economic and environmental cost as well as political and energy benefit.
The cost to produce Biopol is approximately 7 times greater than petrochemical
products. This is a huge economic disadvantage, however there has been recent
developments in the research of producing Biopol derived from plant matter. This
will reduce costs exponentially while still retaining its original properties.
Biopol is produced entirely from bacteria and renewable resources, which allows
for no pollutants to be created during its production unlike plastics made petro
chemically. It is also biodegradable, enabling it to be used in a variety of
situations without the potential hazards to the environment like
Petrochemical plastics are.
Biopol is still in its experimental stages meaning technique and production has
yet to be perfected. This means the energy required is quite high, but as new
developments are made the amount of energy required should decrease

Biopol is very beneficial to the environment, it is biodegradable, resulting in an

improvement of waste management and utilising renewable resources. However
it is more expensive to produce than the plastics made by the use of
petrochemicals. New research has allowed for the development of biopolymers
using transgenic plants and subsequently lowering the costs and making the
biopolymers price competitive with the petrochemical plastics.
Part 1
Smith, R 2005, Conquering Chemistry, McGraw Hill, North Ryde NSW
Polyhydroxybutyrate: an Intriguing Biopolymer, Edwin A.Dawes, Bioscience
Reports, Vol. 8, No. 6, 1988

Part 2

DuPont, Preston S., and Howard H. Rogers. "Battery electrode structure." U.S. Patent No.
4,250,235. 10 Feb. 1981.
Smith, R 2005, Conquering Chemistry, McGraw Hill, North Ryde NSW

Part 2
Gather and present information on the structure and chemistry of a
dry cell or a lead-acid cell and evaluate it in comparison to:

Button cell
Fuel cell
Vanadium redox cell
Lithium cell
Device (e.g. the Gratzel cell)

In terms of:

Cost and practicality
Impact on society
Environmental impact

Galvanic cells harness the electrical energy available from the electron transfer
in a redox reaction to perform useful electrical work. The key to gathering the
electron flow is to separate the oxidation and reduction half-reactions,
connecting them by a wire, so that the electrons must flow through that wire.
That electron flow, called a current, can be sent through a circuit.
The oxidation reaction occurs at the anode (an electrode where oxidation takes
place), while at the cathode (an electrode where reduction takes place), the
reduction reaction occurs. Although, for the electricity to be generated the half
reactions must be separated and the electrons transported from the anode to the
cathode through a wire, producing a current.
These electrodes are submerged into solutions in different locations allowing a
current to be produced. A salt bridge between the two solutions is required to
allow for the migration of ions to occur and create a neutral balance of ions. This
solution must be able to conduct electricity. This solution is called an electrolyte.
Figure 2.1 is an example of a battery that shows the anode, the cathode, the
path of the electrons through the wire as well as the salt bridge.
The salt bridge or porous disk is necessary to maintain the charge neutrality of
each half-cell by allowing the flow of ions with minimal mixing of the half-cell
solutions. As electrons are transferred from the oxidation half-cell to the
reduction half-cell, a negative charge builds in the reduction half-cell and a
positive charge in the oxidation half-cell. That charge buildup would serve to
oppose the current from anode to cathode-- effectively stopping the electron
flow--if the cell lacked a path for ions to flow between the two solutions. Figure
2.1 is an example of a battery that shows the anode, the cathode, the path of the
electrons through the wire as well as the salt bridge.

Figure 2.1

Dry Cell
The dry cell, also known as the lead acid cell, is most widely and commonly
used battery, as it is the most affordable. Its uses include torches and radios. The
anode of the dry cell is zinc, while the cathode is graphite. Figure 2.2 shows the
half reactions occurring at the anode and the cathode. The electrolyte solution
used is a mix of ammonium chloride, zinc chloride and manganese dioxide.
Figure 2.3 shows a cross-section of the structure of a dry cell.

The energy density of the dry cell is 0.09 kWh/kg. This is also the most
affordable battery available for commercial use.
The dry cell also had a very large effect on society as it was one of the first
portable batteries to be produced which allowed it to make torches, radios, toys
and clocks to be portable. However, the disadvantages for dry cells are it does
not produce high currents for its size and it may develop leaks as the zinc casing
corrodes. As a result, the dry cell batteries are harmful to the as they release
hazardous materials and create large amounts of waste.

Figure 2.3

Fuel Cell
The fuel cell is one type of galvanic cell that can be recharged simply by adding
more fuel. These batteries work by adding hydrogen and oxygen together to
create water and heat, and produce electricity. This is done by inserting
hydrogen gas into the anode which splits the hydrogen gas into electrons and
hydrogen ions, while on the oxygen gas is inserted into the cathode and is
separated into oxygen ions. The hydrogen ions and the oxygen ions are then
combined to form water, while the electrons are passed through a circuit which
generates electricity. Figure 2.7 shows the half reactions occurring at the anode
and the cathode, and figure 2.8 displays the structure and the process of the fuel

Although the fuel cell is reasonably cheaper than the dry cell, it does not give a
high enough output of electricity, as a result more than one fuel cell are stacked
to produce the current as the dry cell. Also the hydrogen that is used to supply
the battery is difficult to store and is not easily accessible so alternative fuels are
being considered.

Even though fuel cells are not being used widely throughout society they are
predestined for use in motors and appliances, especially as it has an extremely
high efficiency rate. Also the fuel cell is very environmentally friendly as it has
only water and heat as its emissions, as a pose to dry cells with contain
hazardous materials.



Lead acid cell

Fuel Cell

Full redox reaction

Full redox reaction

The lead acid cell is made

up of plates, lead and
lead oxide. Made up of
35% sulphuric acid and
65% water solution.

Cost and

Impact on

Low maintenance
Robust and tolerant
to abuse
Capable of high
discharge rates
Can be continually
Durable and
Well understood
Heavy, Bulky, low
energy density.
Poor energy-toweight ratio. Not
suitable for devices
that demand
compact size
Coloumbic charge
efficiency is 70%
Danger of
overheating and
malfunction during
Not suitable for
quick charging
Must be stored in
charged state
Short cycle life and
lower useable
Must be charged
slowly or sulfation
Ability to supply
high discharge
rates made them
suitable for motor
engines to be
started easily.
Can be continually
charged, alternator

The fuel cell consists of an

anode comprised of hydrogen
gas, and a cathode comprised
of oxygen. In the centre is an
electrolyte that only allows
protons to pass through it. In
between both electrodes and
electrolytes are catalysts that
facilitate the reactions.

Part of developing
Small mass and high fuel
Very expensive due to
complex system designs
Compact light weight
and no major moving
High cost per kilowatt
Needs a large storage
No recharging is
Return less than 50% of
input energy
Part of developing

Generate electricity and

hot water in households
Transport applications
Aerospace applications
Automotive applications
Do not have large impact
due to high cost.

al Impact

keeps charging
Dependable service
and high current
suitable for use in
mobility scooters
and wheelchairs.
Cheap, simple
design and low
Contain lead,
highly toxic heavy
metal and sulphuric
acid-hazardous and
must be disposed
of with care.
Leakage of lead
into waterways is
an environmental
Danger to people
who come across

Do not have to be
discarded/recycled after
one use.

Corrosive sulfuric acid

can pollute the
environment if spillages

Lead is toxic and

electrodes and casings
must be recycled; lead
causes anaemia and
affects the brain.