Polymer vs Biopolymer
Polymers are large molecules, which have the same structural unit repeating over and over. The repeating units are called monomers. These monomers are bonded to each other with covalent bonds to form a polymer. They have a high molecular weight and consist over 10,000 atoms. In the synthesis process, which is known as polymerization, longer polymer chains are obtained. There are two main types of polymers depending on their synthesis methods. If the monomers have double bonds between carbons from addition reactions, polymers can be synthesized. These polymers are known as addition polymers. In some of the polymerization reactions, when two monomers are joined, a small molecule like water is removed. Such polymers are condensation polymers. Polymers have very different physical and chemical properties than their monomers. Moreover, according to the number of repeating units in the polymer, the properties differ. There are a large number of polymers present in the natural environment, and they play very important roles. Synthetic polymers are also used widely for different purposes. Polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC, nylon, and Bakelite are some of the synthetic polymers. When producing synthetic polymers, the process should always be highly controlled to get the desired product. Polymers are used as adhesives, lubricants, paints, films, fibers, plastic goods, etc.
Biopolymers are polymers, which are synthesized in living organisms. There are three main biopolymers in living systems. Those are polysaccharides, proteins and polynucleotides (nucleic acids). The structural unit of polysaccharides is monosaccharides (sugars). When two monosaccharides are joined together to form a glycosidic bond, a water molecule is released. Polysaccharides play structural and functional roles in organisms. Glycogen is a storage polysaccharide, whereas cellulose is a component in the cell walls of plant cells. Glucose is the monomer for both glycogen and cellulose polymers. Proteins are made of polypeptides, which are biopolymers of amino acid monomers. DNA and RNA are two vital polynucleotides that are found in organisms. Biopolymer synthesize process is a dehydration process, where a water molecule is released with the formation of a covalent bond. Biopolymers are very complex, and there is a wide variety of them. They can be linear or branched, and the folding patterns are unique to each biopolymers. Unlike synthetic polymers, biopolymers are easily degradable. So they can be used to replace some of the synthetic polymers. They can be hydrolyzed by enzymes, or else they can be denatured by heating, adding chemicals, or by mechanical forces. Biopolymers have a defined and very specific structure, because biological systems are highly selective. Also they are synthesized using templates. For example, a new DNA is synthesized using an existing DNA as a template.
Difference between Polymer and Biopolymer
– Biopolymers are a type of polymers, which are present in biological systems.
– Biopolymers have a well defined, specific structure, in contrast to other polymers like synthetic polymers.
– The structures of biopolymers are more advance and complex than the structures of other polymers.
– Biopolymers are easily degradable, and they are renewable.