487. New combined absorption/¹H NMR method for qualitative and quantitative analysis of PET degradation products

David Kornberger, Tanja Paatsch, Magnus Schmidt, Ulrike Salat, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, (2024), DOI: 10.1007/s11356-024-32481-0

Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) is a very valuable and beneficial material for industrial purposes, with various different applications. Due to the high annual production volume of over 50 million tons worldwide and the indiscriminate disposal by consumers, the polymers accumulate in the environment, causing negative effects on various ecosystems. Biodegradation via suitable enzymes represents a promising approach to combat the plastic waste issue so validated methods are required to measure the efficiency and efficacy of these enzymes. PETase and MHETase from Ideonella sakaiensis are suitable enzymes needed in combination to completely degrade PET into its environmentally friendly monomers. In this project, we compare and combine a previously described bulk absorbance measurement method with a newly established 1H NMR analysis method of the PET degradation products mono(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalic acid, bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalic acid and terephthalic acid. Both were optimized regarding different solvents, pH values and drying processes. The accuracy of the measurements can be confirmed with sensitivity limits of 2.5–5 μM for the absorption method and 5–10 μM for the 1H NMR analysis. The combination of the described methods therefore allows a quantitative analysis by using bulk absorption coupled with a qualitative analysis through 1H NMR. The methods established in our work can potentially contribute to the development of suitable recycling strategies of PET using recombinant enzymes.