Is nylon 11 biodegradable? (7 properties) 

This article will deal with the biodegradability status of nylon 11. Other covered aspects would include:

  • What is nylon 11?
  • What is nylon 11 made of?
  • What is the relation between nylon and the planet?
  • What is biodegradability?
  • Is nylon 11 biodegradable?
  • What are green alternatives to nylon?
  • FAQs

Is nylon 11 biodegradable?

Nylon 11 is non-biodegradable because of its similar properties and effects to nylon 12. 

Nylon 11 is also called Polyamide 11 (PA 11). Nylon 11 is polyamide, and bioplastic and is a member of the nylon polymer family. 

Polyamide is also a polymer that is made from repeating units (monomers). These monomers are linked by amide bonds, and that is why polyamides are named as such. Bioplastics are plastics made from plant sources such as sugar cane. 

Nylon 11 is made from castor beans obtained via the chemical isolation of an 11-carbon starter called 11-aminoundecanoic acid.

What is nylon 11 made of?

The materials used to make any product can tell a lot about the product. Consider the case of natural and synthetic textiles. Natural textiles are made from naturally occurring, plant-based or animal-based materials such as cotton or jute. 

Whereas, synthetic fabrics are made from the derivatives of fossil fuels. This is the very reason why the environmental impact of the latter is greatly significant as compared to the former. 

That is why we need to explore the materials that are used to make nylon 11. Nylon 11 is made from castor beans obtained via the chemical isolation of an 11-carbon starter called 11-aminoundecanoic acid.

Therefore, it can be seen that nylon 11 is rather made from natural, plant-based material as compared to other types of nylon such as nylon 66. Therefore, it is plausible to assume that there will be a decreased impact of nylon 11 on the environment and life. 

The reason behind this prognostication is the general understanding that materials made from natural substances are prone to be less hazardous to nature as compared to materials that are made from non-natural substances. The ground reality of this claim will be assessed in the next sections of the article. 

Is nylon 11 biodegradable?

Biodegradation is the breakdown by the action of microbes. These microbes include bacteria, decomposers, and even fungi. 

Biodegradability can be explained by getting an insight into two different terms that include bio and degradation. Bio means life and degradation means breakdown. 

However, it is not only about microbes. There are also other factors that are responsible for the biodegradation process. These include aeration, sunlight, temperature, and pressure. 

The primary difference between biodegradation and degradation is that biodegradation is done by microbes whereas degradation is done through chemicals. 

Regarding biodegradation, there is a general rule of thumb that products made from natural materials are easily and readily biodegradable, whereas, products made from non-natural materials are not readily biodegradable. 

It has been established that there are certain prerequisites necessary for biodegradation. One of them is that the material must be made from natural sources. 

Various types of nylon are synthetic sources. This includes nylon 66 et cetera. However, it has been discussed that nylon 11 is, contrary to conventional nylon types, made from natural sources which is castor beans.

This is sufficient enough to let us conclude that nylon 11 is biodegradable. However, there are some researchers that state otherwise. 

This is mainly because the impact of nylon 11 is very similar to that of nylon 12. Nylon 12 is non-biodegradable. Therefore, even though nylon 11 is made from natural sources, it is regarded as non-biodegradable. 

How well is the utilitarian aspect of nylon? (7 properties) 

Nylon 11 is also called Polyamide 11 (PA 11). Nylon 11 is polyamide, and bioplastic and is a member of the nylon polymer family. 

To better understand what nylon 11 is, there are two terminologies that have to be acquainted with. One is polyamide and the other is bioplastic. 

Let us first understand what bioplastics are. Plastics are synthetic polymers that are made from the derivatives of fossil fuels. Since plastics are made from the derivatives of fossil fuels, plastics cause environmental problems. 

One major problem that is caused by synthetic plastics is that they are non-biodegradable and will remain in the system for hundreds of years. 

In response to this, there are bioplastics. Unlike conventional plastics, bioplastics are made from natural, plant-based sources. These sources include sugar cane, corn starch, sugar beets et cetera. 

Owing to this, bioplastics are regarded as biodegradable and can degrade in a few years as compared to their counterparts which may require several years to up to a thousand years. 

Next, we have polyamide. Polyamide is also a polymer that is made from repeating units (monomers). These monomers are linked by amide bonds, and that is why polyamides are named as such. 

It is claimed that polyamides may also be present in both natural and synthetic forms. The implications in the case of the latter will be more severe and harsh. 

The common properties that are present in nylon 11 include: 

  • Chemical resistance
  • UV resistance 
  • Strength
  • Durability
  • Weather resistance 
  • Thermal stability 
  • Less moisture absorption 

It is also narrated that nylon 11 is also often compared with nylon 12 as there are many underlying similarities between the two that often sojourn to the shores of subtlety. 

However, there are some individual differences that rift them apart. One important one is that nylon 11 is made from biorenewable resources which is not the case for nylon 12. 

What is the relation between nylon and the planet?

This section will study the effects of nylon on the environment and life. However, it may be stated that in this section all types of nylon will be taken under consideration to have a bird’s eye view of the actuality of the situation. 

Nylon has different types followed by different properties, but the main properties are durability, strength and its ability to mould in any shape. As most nylon is nonbiodegradable makes the discarded nylon product stays in landfills for over one hundred years.

As nylon production involves massive use of coal and petroleum, during manufacturing, nitrous oxide is released into the environment which is a greenhouse gas. Nitrous oxide is 300 times stronger than carbon dioxide in the environment and creates harmful impacts on humans.

Furthermore, nylon manufacturing industries consume huge amounts of water during the cooling stage. The used water is later released untreated into the environment consisting in contamination. The untreated water ultimately enters water streams and affects aquatic life. 

Nylon production requires a huge amount of water, and nylon products are being manufactured in developing countries. Developing countries do not follow environmental protocols which creates alarming conditions for water resources depletion. 

Additionally, nylon production uses an immense amount of energy resources which creates global warming and resource depletion situations in the environment. It uses petroleum and coal which are depleted in the environment due to the nylon production sector. 

Moreover, nylon manufacturing involves the use of dyes and colours. Eventually, dyes enter the water streams which causes water pollution. Dyes in the water create an unbearable environment for aquatic life, it reduces visibility in the water. This untreated release of dyes in water results in aquatic life depletion. 

What are green alternatives to nylon?

Let us explore some green and eco-friendly initiatives that have been taken to curb the negative effects rendered by nylon 11. 

As nylon has negative impacts on the environment, it can be replaced by alternative nylon products which are suitable for the environment and resources that are involved in nylon manufacturing.

Recycled Nylon

Recycled nylon can be used by using nylon scrap to make a new fabric. As nylon persists in the environment for centuries, recycled nylon will cause less disposal of microplastics in landfills. 

Also, nylon production requires huge amounts of crude oil and other oil-based products, the use of recycled nylon will also cause a reduction in the use of oil. Recycled nylon is not eco-friendly but it can reduce the environmental impacts on aquatic life and landfills. 

Econyl

Econyl is one the most favourable recycled forms of nylon. It creates no impact on humans and on the environment. The manufacturers of econyl use waste material which is produced during manufacturing and post-consumption. 

Bio-Nylon

Bio nylons can also be used as an alternative to nylon fabric. Its manufacturing does not involve crude oil or fossil fuels whereas microorganisms are involved in microplastic production. Bio nylons have reduced dependency on fossil fuels and crude oils. 

Although they are not 100% environmentally friendly, it is a better option than pure nylon fabric. As virgin resources are involved but it does not have pre-consumer pollution. Its production does not involve fossil fuels or crude oil consumption that’s why it can be chosen as a nylon fabric alternative. 

Conclusion 

It is concluded that nylon 11 is non-biodegradable because of its similar properties and effects to nylon 12. 

Nylon 11 is also called Polyamide 11 (PA 11). Nylon 11 is polyamide, and bioplastic and is a member of the nylon polymer family. 

Polyamide is also a polymer that is made from repeating units (monomers). These monomers are linked by amide bonds, and that is why polyamides are named as such. Bioplastics are plastics made from plant sources such as sugar cane. 

Nylon 11 is made from castor beans obtained via the chemical isolation of an 11-carbon starter called 11-aminoundecanoic acid.

Frequently Asked Questions: Is nylon 11 biodegradable?

What is nylon 11 made of?

Nylon 11 is made from castor beans obtained via the chemical isolation of an 11-carbon starter called 11-aminoundecanoic acid.

Which nylon is biodegradable?

Nylon 2-nylon-6 is biodegradable nylon. 

References

  • Zhang, Q., Mo, Z., Liu, S., & Zhang, H. (2000). Influence of annealing on the structure of Nylon 11. Macromolecules, 33(16), 5999-6005.
  • Takase, Y., Lee, J. W., Scheinbeim, J. I., & Newman, B. A. (1991). High-temperature characteristics of nylon-11 and nylon-7 piezoelectrics. Macromolecules, 24(25), 6644-6652.
  • Tokiwa, Y., Calabia, B. P., Ugwu, C. U., & Aiba, S. (2009). Biodegradability of plastics. International journal of molecular sciences, 10(9), 3722-3742.
  • Kubowicz, S., & Booth, A. M. (2017). Biodegradability of plastics: challenges and misconceptions.
  • Leja, K., & Lewandowicz, G. (2010). Polymer biodegradation and biodegradable polymers-a review. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, 19(2).

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