They can be either thermoplastic or elastomeric materials, with melting points ranging from 40 to 180 °C.
The mechanical and biocompatibility of PHA can also be changed by blending, modifying the surface or combining PHA with other polymers, enzymes and inorganic materials, making it possible for a wider range of applications.
To produce PHA, a culture of a specific micro-organism is placed in a suitable medium and fed appropriate nutrients so that it multiplies rapidly. Once the population has reached a substantial level, the nutrient composition is changed to force the micro-organism to synthesize PHA. The yield of PHA obtained from the intracellular inclusions can be as high as 80% of the organism’s dry weight.
The biosynthesis of PHA is usually caused by certain deficiency conditions (e.g. lack of macro elements such as phosphorus, nitrogen, trace elements, or lack of oxygen) and the excess supply of carbon sources.
In the industrial production of PHA, the polyester is extracted and purified from the bacteria by optimizing the conditions of microbial fermentation of sugar or glucose.
As raw material for the fermentation, carbohydrates such as glucose and sucrose can be used, but also vegetable oil or glycerine from biodiesel production.
PHAs are processed mainly via injection molding, extrusion and extrusion bubbles into films and hollow bodies.