Bio-based polymers and materials


Without synthetic polymers, our lives would be hard to imagine. We evaluate and develop sustainable and bio-based alternatives for applications such as adhesives, fiber composites, polyurethane foams and wood-polymer materials.

In view of dwindling fossil resources and the environmental impact of their consumption, bio based alternatives to conventional products are being developed worldwide. Examples are packaging and disposable tableware, adhesives, resins for paints, wood fiber and composite materials as well as paper coatings. Rarely, these products can be made from a single basic substance. In most cases, they are complex combinations of various substances, specially selected for the application.

By using only slightly modified biomass such as wood or cellulose fibers, natures’ preliminary work can be effectively used. For the development of new materials we use for example natural fibers and lignin. Many applications of bio-based polymers and plastics, such as adhesives, coatings and binders, require the use of special chemicals (monomers).

However, not all of these substances are currently produced industrially as many of their manufacturing processes are still under development. Accordingly, the full application potential of many bio-based monomers and polymers can currently not be assessed. We produce new bio-based monomers and modified polymers and utilize these in the development of bio-based composite materials or adhesives.

Two Thünen Institutes work on questions regarding the evaluation and development of bio- based polymers and materials. The focus of the Institute of Agricultural Technology on the development of polymers and materials based on new bio-based basic chemicals, the focus of the Institute of Wood Research is the development of commodity chemicals and materials made of wood and by-products of forestry and timber industry.

Article from the magazine "Wissenschaft erleben" 2015/2 (in German):
Der richtige Dreh
Bessere Bio-Kunststoffe durch rechts- und linksdrehende Milchsäure

Article from the magazine "Wissenschaft erleben" 2014/1 (in German):
Trinken, tanken oder in die Chemiefabrik?
Wie wichtig Bioethanol für die chemische Industrie werden könnte