Upstream of bioplastics, if you are interested in understanding the processes that allow to turn plants into building blocks of plant based chemistry then bio –polymers and bioplastics, I encourage you to read the excellent review paper published by Babu, O’Connor and Seeram in 2013 and edited by SpecialChem on Aug 12,2013.
This is just an extract of the introduction. It highlights what is referred to as the transition between the first generation of plant based chemistry, using the edible part of the plant such as corn and wheat sugars, and the second generation, using non feedstock ligno-cellulosic biomass.
“The first generation of bio-based polymers focused on deriving polymers from agricultural feedstocks such as corn, potatoes, and other carbohydrate feedstocks. However, the focus has shifted in recent years due to a desire to move away from food-based resources and significant breakthroughs in biotechnology.
Bio-based polymers similar to conventional polymers are produced by bacterial fermentation processes by synthesizing the building blocks (monomers) from renewable resources, including lignocellulosic biomass (starch and cellulose), fatty acids, and organic waste. Natural bio-based polymers are the other class of bio-based polymers which are found naturally, such as proteins, nucleic acids, and polysaccharides (collagen, chitosan, etc.).
These bio-based polymers have shown enormous growth in recent years in terms of technological developments and their commercial applications.
There are three principal ways to produce bio-based polymers using renewable resources:
- Using natural bio-based polymers with partial modification to meet the requirements (e.g., starch)
- Producing bio-based monomers by fermentation/conventional chemistry followed by polymerization (e.g., polylactic acid, polybutylene succinate, and polyethylene)
- Producing bio-based polymers directly by bacteria (e.g., polyhydroxyalkanoates).
In this paper, an overview of bio-based polymers made from renewable resources and natural polymers derived from plant and animal origins is presented. The review will focus on the preparation, properties, applications, and future trends for bio-based polymers. This paper discusses the use of renewable resources such as ligno-cellulosic biomass to create monomers and polymers that can replace petroleum-based polymers, such as polyester, polylactic acids, and other natural bio-based polymers, which are presented in (see image at the top).
Researchers: Ramesh P Babu, an affiliate of Center for Research Adoptive Nanostructures and Nano Devices, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland & School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland; Kevin O’Connor, an affiliate of School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences, Center for Synthesis and Chemical Biology, UCD Conway Institute, and Earth Institute, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland & Ramakrishna Seeram, an affiliate of NUSNNI, National University of Singapore, 2 Engineering Drive 3, Singapore, 117581, Singapore, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, Singapore, 117602, Singapore & Jinan University, Guangzhou, China, recently published a review paper on the topic of Current progress on bio-based polymers and their future trends (©2013 Babu et al.; licensee Springer). SpecialChem Editorial Team is presenting the key sections of the review below. To access the review paper, please visit: here