Biotechnology to develop new plastics

Obtaining high added-value products through biotechnology

The term biotechnology refers to any technological application that uses biological systems and living organisms or their derivatives to create or modify products or processes for specific uses.

In this sense, biotechnology becomes an opportunity to replace chemical processes with new more environmentally friendly, more efficient and sustainable processes, based on the use of renewable raw materials. Thus, science and engineering enable the development of industrial processes to boost greener chemistry, both to obtain chemical products and biofuels. The challenge of biotechnology is therefore to achieve transformations that create products with higher added value than those currently on the market.


Technology to reduce environmental impact

Biotechnology applied to the plastics sector can replace oil-based products and can be used in processes and for the development of biomonomers, bioplastics and biofuels. It provides a broad range of very powerful tools and has brought with it a large number of success stories, such as:

  • Obtaining chemical building blocks that can be used to synthesize biopolymers which come from renewable natural sources instead of oil.
  • Enzymatic polymerization, in which conventional metal catalysts are replaced by enzymes, with the advantages that this entails (no toxicity, use of less aggressive temperature and pressure conditions, reduced use of organic solvents, etc.).
  • Healthcare sector applications to produce more effective biopharmaceuticals efficiently and safely. In addition, research in the field of genomics has progressed towards more personalized medicine, known as ‘precision medicine’, which will offer new paradigms in the manufacture of more efficient biopharmaceutical products.
  • The use of CO2 as a raw material.

Therefore, biotechnology offers great opportunities for the synthesis of new polymeric materials. In addition, renewable resources such as biomass can often be used as a starting substrate for enzymatic polymerization, thus closing the circle for the development of entirely sustainable materials.

Some of AIMPLAS’ main research lines in this field are:

  • Exploring conversion routes to produce chemical building blocks.
  • Obtaining value-added monomers from waste and purifying them.
  • Obtaining new bioplastics.
  • Obtaining new flame retardants.

Other lines of research

Ferran Martí

R&D Manager