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Institute of

AT Agricultural Technology


New bio-based Polymers and Materials

Lead Institute AT Institute of Agricultural Technology

bio-based polymers and materials
© Thünen-Institut

Investigation and evaluation of methods for the production of bio-based polymers and materials, evaluation of new applications.

Synthetic polymers and materials make a decisive contribution to the preservation of our high standard of living. We analyze, evaluate and develop alternatives for a bio-based economy.

Background and Objective

In recent years, the development of bio-based polymers and materials has been driven by the growing environmental awareness and rising fossil fuel prices. Meanwhile, they represent not only supplements but real alternatives to conventional products. Currently, biobased polymers and materials are produced either directly through modification of natural polymers such as cellulose and starch or in integrated processes from carbohydrates. The products of these processes can our current starting compounds (monomers) and shall be integrated replacements directly into existing process chains as a drop-in or have new structures. The latter are as in the production of polylactic acid and polybutylene succinate as well as building blocks for functional polymers and materials, eg used in bio-based composite materials, adhesives, coatings additives and foams.
The potential of bio-based monomers for the production of new polymers and materials for a future bio-based economy is not yet sufficiently investigated and evaluated. We develop new bio-based polymers and materials according to the principles of green chemistry with the aim of substituting fossil fuels in established products and applications. We turn our special attention to the aspects of functionality, economy and process and product safety.


The basis for answering our questions is extensive knowledge about the production, processing and material properties of polymeric compounds. Besides the analysis of commercial products, our work focuses on the application-specific development and optimization of new bio-based polymers and materials. As part of this work we synthesize new functional structures and conduct extensive structural and material characterizations by:

Polymer synthesis

The development of new bio-based polymers and materials is a main focus of our work. Using specially selected for the applications to be substituted monomers physical, thermochemical and mechanical and processing relevant properties are set basically. Further optimization is done by selective copolymerization, derivatisation, additivation and reinforcement.

Structural and material characterization
In order to understand and improve the properties of new polymers and materials, it is essential to correlate structural elements with specific functionalities. The identification of existing structure-property relationships is a central task of our work. We use structure-determining spectroscopic and chromatographic methods, eg infrared spectroscopy, size exclusion chromatography with light scattering detection and mass spectrometry. By capturing different structural parameters, these methods complement each other very well and provide comprehensive structural images.
For the characterization of materials we use, a various testing machines and methods in an air-conditioned laboratory (load range <1 g to 1 t). The mechanical data is complemented by rheological and thermal analysis methods. They allow the determination of the melting and recrystallization, the visco-elastic behavior and of the thermal stability. Data and parameters are used to model the material behavior under application conditions and to evaluate the potential application.


Permanent task 10.2010 - 12.2025

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