Are All Polymers Hydrolysable?

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In summary: The opposite of hydrophobic is hydrophilic, and to confuse you more, there's also amphiphilic molecules which form micelles.I see, thank you for clarifying that.
  • #1
sponsoredwalk
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My book is talking about Condensation & Hydrolysis reactions & has said that Polymers are "digested" to become monomers in hydrolysis reactions, i.e. when water is added to a polymer.

I just want to clarify,

1) Does adding water to all polymers break them apart instantly? i.e. are all polymers hydrophobic or just specific polymers?

2) Do amino instantly break apart when added to water or do the side chains attached shield them or something?

3) Do Proteins instantly break apart when added to water or does the folding shield them or something?

NOTE: By Shielding I mean would a hydrophobic side chain prevent the water from causing polymers to break apart?


4) Do these polymers break apart in water because of polar reactions, i.e. the partial charges break apart the bonds?

For example, in this picture - http://www.bio.miami.edu/~cmallery/150/protein/c8.8x13.hydrolysis.sucrose.jpg

If I poured sucrose into a glass of water does electronegativity & hydrogen bonds account for these polymers breaking up

5) Maltose (formed from a condensation reaction of two glucose molecules) is in crackers, (you know crackers - the wafer biscuit things you eat), well when you put them in water they break apart and dissolve...

Does Hydrolysis explain this, i.e. the polarity of water pulls the molecules of the cracker apart?

With great sincerity I appreciate any help anyone can give me, thank you :smile:
 
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  • #3


Yes I'm aware of the distinction.

1) Hydrolysis breaks apart polymers. What I meant by "are all polymers hydrophobic" was do they "hate" water. I misused it I suppose. I'll restate:

Does adding water to all polymers break them apart instantly? If so, is this because of polarity and partial charges.

I'm still hoping for answers to all 5, I've been looking for two hours trying to answer these to no avail.
 
  • #4


The answer is no, not all are. Plastics are addition polymers and are notoriously hard to break down.

The answer is also yes, but only in the case of condensation polymers (water is formed as a by product during the polymerization reaction). The peptide or ester bonds may be hydrolysed by a reverse reaction. It would depend on the reaction kinetics what the direction of product formation is and how easily it is accomplished. Condensation polymers are potential candidates for biodegradable plastics.
 
  • #5


Most biological polymers (proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates) can be hydrolyzed into monomers. However, the activation energy for the hydrolysis reaction is high enough that the hydrolysis reaction does not occur very quickly at room temperature (hence, this is why our cells which are full of water are not falling apart right now due to hydrolysis). In order to get the hydrolysis to occur, you would either need to raise the temperature or add a catalyst (e.g. enzymes that promote the degradation of these biological polymers).
 
  • #6
Ygggdrasil said:
Most biological polymers (proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates) can be hydrolyzed into monomers. However, the activation energy for the hydrolysis reaction is high enough that the hydrolysis reaction does not occur very quickly at room temperature (hence, this is why our cells which are full of water are not falling apart right now due to hydrolysis). In order to get the hydrolysis to occur, you would either need to raise the temperature or add a catalyst (e.g. enzymes that promote the degradation of these biological polymers).

That makes a lot of sense.

Monique said:
Condensation polymers are potential candidates for biodegradable plastics.

It sems like a great idea, - great for the environment. But if the soymilk in my shopping bag accidentally broke open on my way home the bag would disintegrate via hydrolysis & I'd lose all my shopping :rolleyes:

I have to give a 2 minute George Carlin link as it is extremely relevant to the discussion



--------------------------------------------------------

Also, to expand upon one of my original questions,

3) Do Proteins instantly break apart when added to water or does the folding shield them or something?

10 amino acids are hydrophilic due to their R group side chains, so the carboxylic & amine groups are unaffected by the polarity of water (hydrogen bonds don't pull these off of the molecule) & the hydrophilic side chain will not be pulled apart unless the activation energy is considerably higher than 37-42 degrees celsius.

Is that accurate?

--------------------------------

5)Maltose (formed from a condensation reaction of two glucose molecules) is in crackers, (you know crackers - the wafer biscuit things you eat), well when you put them in water they break apart and dissolve...

Does Hydrolysis explain this, i.e. the polarity of water pulls the molecules of the cracker apart?

I really messed up my language for this question, I didn't mean to use the term "hydrolysis", I meant to ask does the waters polarity cause the cracker to dissolve in water?

These are the ingredients : Unbleached wheat flour, water, whole
ground corn, whole ground wheat,
canola oil, olive oil, dried onion,
dried garlic, yeast and sea salt.
Additionally, rye cracker will contain
whole ground rye.

this is a cracker http://classes.uleth.ca/200301/fa2020a/Images/CRACKERS.JPG

What I'm asking is: do crackers dissolve because the molecular make-up of it's constituents are made of molecules that are pulled apart by hydrogen bonds...?

:smile:
 
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  • #7
sponsoredwalk said:
3) Do Proteins instantly break apart when added to water or does the folding shield them or something?

10 amino acids are hydrophilic due to their R group side chains, so the carboxylic & amine groups are unaffected by the polarity of water (hydrogen bonds don't pull these off of the molecule) & the hydrophilic side chain will not be pulled apart unless the activation energy is considerably higher than 37-42 degrees celsius.

Is that accurate?

The amide bonds between amino acids in a protein are fairly strong and stable bonds (they bond is slightly stronger than the average single bond because of a resonance structure where there is a double bond between the carbonyl carbon and nitrogen). Protein folding can help protect the amide bonds against hydrolysis. Certainly the amino acids that lie in the interior of the protein and are shielded from water will not be very susceptible to hydrolysis. Furthermore, hydrogen bonding formed between the hydrogen of an amide group and the carbonyl of another amide group will help to stabilize the bond by making the nitrogen's lone pair more available to delocalize over the C-N bond.


5)Maltose (formed from a condensation reaction of two glucose molecules) is in crackers, (you know crackers - the wafer biscuit things you eat), well when you put them in water they break apart and dissolve...

Does Hydrolysis explain this, i.e. the polarity of water pulls the molecules of the cracker apart?

I really messed up my language for this question, I didn't mean to use the term "hydrolysis", I meant to ask does the waters polarity cause the cracker to dissolve in water?

These are the ingredients : Unbleached wheat flour, water, whole
ground corn, whole ground wheat,
canola oil, olive oil, dried onion,
dried garlic, yeast and sea salt.
Additionally, rye cracker will contain
whole ground rye.

this is a cracker http://classes.uleth.ca/200301/fa2020a/Images/CRACKERS.JPG

What I'm asking is: do crackers dissolve because the molecular make-up of it's constituents are made of molecules that are pulled apart by hydrogen bonds...?

:smile:

Crackers are mostly made of starch (polymers of glucose). Because these carbohydrates are very polar, they will easily dissolve in water. So, yes, you are correct. Crackers dissolve in water because it is made up of molecules that can form hydrogen bonds with water.
 

Related to Are All Polymers Hydrolysable?

1. What is a polymer?

A polymer is a large molecule made up of repeating units called monomers. These monomers are linked together by chemical bonds, forming long chains or networks.

2. What is hydrolysis?

Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction that breaks down a compound by reacting it with water. This reaction can occur naturally or be induced through various processes, and it can result in the breakdown of polymers into smaller molecules.

3. Are all polymers hydrolysable?

No, not all polymers are hydrolysable. While many polymers are susceptible to hydrolysis, some are more resistant due to their chemical structure. Polymers such as polyethylene and polypropylene are examples of hydrophobic polymers that are not easily hydrolysed.

4. How does hydrolysis affect the properties of polymers?

Hydrolysis can significantly alter the properties of polymers. It can cause the polymer chains to break, resulting in a decrease in molecular weight and changes in physical properties such as strength, flexibility, and thermal stability. In some cases, hydrolysis can also lead to the formation of new functional groups on the polymer, altering its chemical properties.

5. Can hydrolysable polymers be recycled?

Yes, hydrolysable polymers can be recycled, but the process can be more challenging than recycling non-hydrolysable polymers. The hydrolysis reaction can cause the polymer to degrade, making it more difficult to process and recycle. However, with proper techniques and technologies, hydrolysable polymers can be recycled and reused.

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