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Special Issue "Polymers from Biomass"

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A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2013)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Walter Leitner

Lehrstuhl für Technische Chemie und Petrolchemie, Institut für Technische Chemie und Makromolekulare Chemie (ITMC), RWTH Aachen University, Worringerweg 1, 52074 Aachen, Germany
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Interests: molecular catalysis; selective conversion of biogenic platform chemicals; advanced reaction media; green chemistry
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Regina Palkovits

Lehrstuhl für nanostrukturierte Katalysatoren, Institut für Technische Chemie und Makromolekulare Chemie (ITMC), RWTH Aachen University, Worringerweg 1, 52074 Aachen, Germany
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Initially, the term ‘Biopolymers’ was used in the last decades to describe bio-degradable polymers mainly derived from fossil resources. In recent years, the meaning of this term shifted to describe biogenic polymers, i.e. materials derived by chemical and biochemical processes from biomass as a renewable resource. This field has grown extraordinarily fast in the last decade, powered by the increasing economic and ecologic evidence for the limitation of fossil resources and the corresponding search for alternative carbon resources. Therefore, creating a scientific and technical basis for a new era of sustainable chemical production and consumers’ behavior beyond the oil age becomes indispensable.

Among the various strategies to obtain polymer building blocks from biomass, the exploration of a pool of novel platform chemicals is particularly attractive. It allows at least in principle to re-design new value chains starting from the desired product properties. The individual transformation steps need to be opened up by means of novel homogeneous, heterogeneous as well as enzyme catalyzed processes and advanced technologies. A great potential for sustainable production processes and products is provided by lignocellulose as one of the most important raw material since waste streams can be utilized and no direct competition to the food chain occurs. Monomers derived thereof can be applied in the production of conventional polymers or used as co-monomers resulting in improved properties. A largely unexplored potential for future polymer production is provided by novel platform chemicals that were not considered as monomers before and their respective novel polymeric compounds.

For a successful future development of this important field that will affect all of our daily lives sooner or later, the cooperation and exchange of knowledge of scientists from various fields such as catalysis, chemical engineering, polymeric chemistry, materials science and many more is mandatory. This special issue “Polymers from Biomass” is intended to contribute to this development by compiling reviews, full papers, and communications from leading experts in academia and industry.

Prof. Dr. Walter Leitner
Prof. Dr. Regina Palkovits
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • biopolymers and biogenic building blocks
  • monomers from biomass
  • renewable resources
  • catalytic conversion
  • lignocellulose
  • platform chemicals

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Maintaining Structural Stability of Poly(lactic acid): Effects of Multifunctional Epoxy based Reactive Oligomers
Polymers 2014, 6(4), 1232-1250; doi:10.3390/polym6041232
Received: 27 December 2013 / Revised: 12 March 2014 / Accepted: 8 April 2014 / Published: 22 April 2014
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (740 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In order to reduce the effects of hydrolytic degradation and to maintain sufficient viscosity during processing of biomass based poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA), various epoxy functional reactive oligomers have been characterized and incorporated into the degraded fragments as chain extenders. The molecular weight of
[...] Read more.
In order to reduce the effects of hydrolytic degradation and to maintain sufficient viscosity during processing of biomass based poly(l-lactic acid) (PLLA), various epoxy functional reactive oligomers have been characterized and incorporated into the degraded fragments as chain extenders. The molecular weight of PLLA increased with the increase in functionality of the reactive oligomers. No further increase in molecular weight was observed for oligomers with functionality of greater than five. Under our experimental conditions, no gelation was found even when the highest functionality reactive oligomers were used. This is attributed to the preferential reaction of the carboxylic acid versus the negligible reactivity of the hydroxyl groups, present at the two ends of the degraded PLLA chains, with the epoxy groups. The study provides a clear understanding of the degradation and chain extension reaction of poly(lactic acid) (PLA) with epoxy functional reactive oligomers. It is also shown that a higher functionality and concentration of the reactive oligomers is needed, to bring about a sufficient increase in the molecular weight and hence the hydrolytic stability in circumstances when PLA chains suffer significant degradation during processing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers from Biomass)
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Open AccessArticle Biobased Contents of Natural Rubber Model Compound and Its Separated Constituents
Polymers 2014, 6(2), 423-442; doi:10.3390/polym6020423
Received: 30 December 2013 / Accepted: 7 February 2014 / Published: 10 February 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (1021 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Production of rubber products with biobased constituents from biomass resources is desirable for conserving our planet’s limited resources and preventing global warming. Herein, a natural rubber model compound was produced to determine the biobased contents as per various indices for calculating the amount
[...] Read more.
Production of rubber products with biobased constituents from biomass resources is desirable for conserving our planet’s limited resources and preventing global warming. Herein, a natural rubber model compound was produced to determine the biobased contents as per various indices for calculating the amount of biomass resources used in rubber products. The biobased mass and biobased carbon contents of the natural rubber model compound were 38.7% and 39.2%, respectively, which were calculated from the feed amounts of the constituents as per the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/the draft of International Standard (DIS) 16620-2 and 16620-4. The model compound was separated into its constituents such as polymer, additive, carbon black, and zinc oxide using ISO 1407, 4650, 7720-2, and 9924-3. The biobased carbon content of this model compound was 37.6%, calculated from the percent of modern carbon (pMC), which was measured directly using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). The calculated values for this model compound agreed with those calculated from the feed amounts of the constituents. Thus, it was confirmed that these calculation and determination methods of the biobased mass and the biobased carbon contents for rubber products should be published as new ISO international standards after a discussion at technical committee 45, “rubber and rubber products” to evaluate rubber products with larger biobased contents of natural rubber and other biobased ingredients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers from Biomass)
Open AccessArticle Exergetical Evaluation of Biobased Synthesis Pathways
Polymers 2014, 6(2), 327-345; doi:10.3390/polym6020327
Received: 13 January 2014 / Revised: 26 January 2014 / Accepted: 27 January 2014 / Published: 29 January 2014
PDF Full-text (164 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The vast majority of today’s chemical products are based on crude oil. An attractive and sustainable alternative feedstock is biomass. Since crude oil and biomass differ in various properties, new synthesis pathways and processes have to be developed. In order to prioritize limited
[...] Read more.
The vast majority of today’s chemical products are based on crude oil. An attractive and sustainable alternative feedstock is biomass. Since crude oil and biomass differ in various properties, new synthesis pathways and processes have to be developed. In order to prioritize limited resources for research and development (R & D), their economic potential must be estimated in the early stages of development. A suitable measure for an estimation of the economic potential is based on exergy balances. Different structures of synthesis pathways characterised by the chemical exergy of the main components are evaluated. Based on a detailed evaluation of the underlying processes, general recommendations for future bio-based synthesis pathways are derived. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers from Biomass)
Open AccessArticle Extensional Flow Properties of Externally Plasticized Cellulose Acetate: Influence of Plasticizer Content
Polymers 2013, 5(3), 873-889; doi:10.3390/polym5030873
Received: 7 June 2013 / Accepted: 24 June 2013 / Published: 2 July 2013
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (3166 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Elongational flow properties of polymer melts are very important for numerous polymer processing technologies such as blown film extrusion or foam extrusion. Rheotens tests were conducted to investigate the influence of plasticizer content on elongational flow properties of cellulose acetate (CA). Triethyl citrate
[...] Read more.
Elongational flow properties of polymer melts are very important for numerous polymer processing technologies such as blown film extrusion or foam extrusion. Rheotens tests were conducted to investigate the influence of plasticizer content on elongational flow properties of cellulose acetate (CA). Triethyl citrate (TEC) was used as plasticizer. Melt strength decreases whereas melt extensibility increases with increasing plasticizer content. Melt strength was further studied as a function of zero shear viscosity. The typical draw resonance of the Rheotens curve shifts to higher drawdown velocity and the amplitude of the draw resonance decreases with increasing TEC content. With respect to foam extrusion, not only are melt strength and melt extensibility important but the elongational behavior at low strain rates and the area under the Rheotens curve are also significant. Therefore, elongational viscosity as well as specific energy input were calculated and investigated with respect to plasticizer content. Preliminary foam extrusion tests of externally plasticized CA using chemical blowing agents confirm the results from rheological characterization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers from Biomass)
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Open AccessArticle Esterification of Condensed Tannins and Their Impact on the Properties of Poly(Lactic Acid)
Polymers 2013, 5(2), 344-360; doi:10.3390/polym5020344
Received: 25 February 2013 / Revised: 6 March 2013 / Accepted: 11 April 2013 / Published: 19 April 2013
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (434 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Reported is a study evaluating the potential of esterified tannins as plastic additives in poly(lactic acid) (PLA). Tannin esterification using anhydrides was investigated as a route to synthesize tannin esters possessing varying ester chain length and degree of substitution (DS). Esterification decreased the
[...] Read more.
Reported is a study evaluating the potential of esterified tannins as plastic additives in poly(lactic acid) (PLA). Tannin esterification using anhydrides was investigated as a route to synthesize tannin esters possessing varying ester chain length and degree of substitution (DS). Esterification decreased the tannin UV absorbance, predominately in the UVB region. However, tannin materials with longer ester chain lengths exhibited melt behaviors suitable for processing in plastics. On compounding into PLA, tannin hexanoate esters lowered the PLA glass transition by 5–6 °C. Shorter chain length tannin esters had a reduced effect on PLA polymer properties. The PLA flexural properties were significantly altered with stiffness decreases of up to 15% depending on ester chain length and loading. Artificial weathering of modified the PLA samples suggests the presence of tannin esters may confer a protection role to PLA on extended exposure. Overall, results suggest scope for the use of tannin esters possessing longer ester chain length as plastic additives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers from Biomass)
Open AccessArticle Biodegradable Poly(butylene succinate) Composites Reinforced by Cotton Fiber with Silane Coupling Agent
Polymers 2013, 5(1), 128-141; doi:10.3390/polym5010128
Received: 14 November 2012 / Revised: 8 January 2013 / Accepted: 24 January 2013 / Published: 29 January 2013
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (1526 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, the use of cotton fiber (CF) as a filler in poly(butylene succinate) (PBS) and the effect of silane treatment on the mechanical properties, thermal stability, and biodegradability of PBS/CF composites are investigated. The results showed that the tensile strength of
[...] Read more.
In this study, the use of cotton fiber (CF) as a filler in poly(butylene succinate) (PBS) and the effect of silane treatment on the mechanical properties, thermal stability, and biodegradability of PBS/CF composites are investigated. The results showed that the tensile strength of PBS was improved (15%–78%) with the incorporation of CF (10–40 wt%) and was further increased (25%–118%) when CF was treated with a silane coupling agent. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observation of the fracture surfaces of PBS/CF composites showed that there was slight improvement in fiber-matrix compatibility. Thermogravimetric (TG) analysis showed that the thermal stability of the composites was lower than that of neat PBS and decreased with increasing filler loading. The biobased carbon content of the composites increased with increasing CF content. The incorporation of CF (with and without silane treatment) in PBS significantly increased the biodegradation rate of the composites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers from Biomass)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Start a Research on Biopolymer Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA): A Review
Polymers 2014, 6(3), 706-754; doi:10.3390/polym6030706
Received: 30 January 2014 / Revised: 21 February 2014 / Accepted: 27 February 2014 / Published: 12 March 2014
Cited by 40 | PDF Full-text (1304 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
With the impending fossil fuel crisis, the search for and development of alternative chemical/material substitutes is pivotal in reducing mankind’s dependency on fossil resources. One of the potential substitute candidates is polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). PHA is a carbon-neutral and valuable polymer that could be
[...] Read more.
With the impending fossil fuel crisis, the search for and development of alternative chemical/material substitutes is pivotal in reducing mankind’s dependency on fossil resources. One of the potential substitute candidates is polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). PHA is a carbon-neutral and valuable polymer that could be produced from many renewable carbon sources by microorganisms, making it a sustainable and environmental-friendly material. At present, PHA is not cost competitive compared to fossil-derived products. Encouraging and intensifying research work on PHA is anticipated to enhance its economic viability in the future. The development of various biomolecular and chemical techniques for PHA analysis has led to the identification of many PHA-producing microbial strains, some of which are deposited in culture collections. Research work on PHA could be rapidly initiated with these ready-to-use techniques and microbial strains. This review aims to facilitate the start-up of PHA research by providing a summary of commercially available PHA-accumulating microbial cultures, PHA biosynthetic pathways, and methods for PHA detection, extraction and analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers from Biomass)
Open AccessReview Functionalized Polymers from Lignocellulosic Biomass: State of the Art
Polymers 2013, 5(2), 600-642; doi:10.3390/polym5020600
Received: 25 February 2013 / Revised: 12 April 2013 / Accepted: 14 May 2013 / Published: 28 May 2013
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (3811 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Since the realization that global sustainability depends on renewable sources of materials and energy, there has been an ever-increasing need to develop bio-based polymers that are able to replace petroleum-based polymers. Research in this field has shown strong potential in generating high-performance functionalized
[...] Read more.
Since the realization that global sustainability depends on renewable sources of materials and energy, there has been an ever-increasing need to develop bio-based polymers that are able to replace petroleum-based polymers. Research in this field has shown strong potential in generating high-performance functionalized polymers from plant biomass. With the anticipated large-scale production of lignocellulosic biomass, lignin, cellulose and hemicellulosic polysaccharides will be abundantly available renewable feedstocks for biopolymers and biocomposites with physico-chemical properties that match or exceed those of petroleum-based compounds. This review examines the state of the art regarding advances and challenges in synthesis and applications of specialty polymers and composites derived from cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, ending with a brief assessment of genetic modification as a route to tailor crop plants for specific applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers from Biomass)
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