Bio-based Polymers and Materials
Environmental and economic concerns have driven the development of bio-based polymers and materials in the recent years. The efforts are mainly concerned with the direct production of biopolymers and the production of bio-based monomers for their further polymerization by chemical or biotechnological routes. Work on the direct production of biopolymers was mainly focused on improving the productivity and on tailoring the composition and properties. The main studied polymers in this category are polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and poly- and oligo-saccharides, even if some others such as lignin and poly(amino acid)s were also considered. The production of bio-based monomers has evolved from the production of monomers for biodegradable polymers (polylactic acid, PLA) to the petroleum identical non-biodegradable polyethylene (PE) through the partially bio-based polybutylene succinate (PBS). In this chapter we discuss the up-to-date achievements in these different areas, as well as the pros and cons of each type of biomaterials and future prospects of the field.