Published August 2013
Bio-based polymers are defined as materials for which at least a portion of the polymer consists of material produced from renewable raw materials. For example, bio-based polymers may be produced from corn or sugarcane. The remaining portion of the polymers may be from fossil fuel-based carbon. Bio-based polymers generally have a lower CO2 footprint and are associated with the concept of sustainability. Because of concerns about the depletion of fossil resources and the global warming associated with the use of petrochemicals, new bio-based polymers continue to be developed.
Several new bio-based polymers have been commercialized. A bio-based polycarbonate, isosorbide polycarbonate, can potentially be used as an alternative to petroleum-based polycarbonate. Corn-based isosorbide is used as a replacement for bisphenol A (BPA) monomer. Bio-based polybutylene succinate (PBS) resin prepared from bio-based succinic acid and bio-based 1,4-butanediol (BDO) can replace biodegradable petrochemical-based PBS. Green polyethylene has been commercialized with bio-based ethylene.
In this report, recent developments in bio-based polymers since our last report published in 2008 are discussed. This report reviews the production of the bio-based monomers required to produce isosorbide polycarbonate, polybutylene succinate, and polyethylene. The process economics for producing the monomers and polymers are evaluated. Comparative process economics for the conventional petroleum-derived polymers are included. This report will be of value to those companies engaged in the production of bio-based polymers and the conventional petroleum-derived-feedstock-based polymers.