Use of Carbon Dioxide in Polymer Synthesis

  • Annalisa Abdel AzimEmail author
  • Alessandro CordaraEmail author
  • Beatrice Battaglino
  • Angela Re
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 41)


The possibility of developing biotechnological processes based on emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) for obtaining diverse products offers an exciting and visionary path from an ecologically destructive and resource-exhausting societal and economical model to a resource-conserving and environmentally friendly one. Microorganisms-based CO2 sequestration is best positioned to represent a prominent alternative to conventional CO2 sequestration technologies consisting of CO2 capture, CO2 separation, and CO2 storage, which present shortfalls such as energy and operational costs and the production of degradation products injurious to human health and natural ecosystems. Without neglecting the bottlenecks inherent into bio-manufacturing, it is worth highlighting that, differently from microbial CO2 sequestration, microorganisms are not restricted to be used solely as desirable carbon sinks but also as catalysts that can simultaneously capture CO2 and produce value-added chemicals. Rather than being a niche market, the CO2-based biopolymers market is expected to witness significant growth.

Herein, we highlight the usage of CO2 as carbon substrate in the synthesis of polymers or polymer building blocks through biological processes. Together with the advances reached by synthetic biology and metabolic engineering capacities, a number of microorganisms have been engaged in the construction of CO2-based cell factories. The present chapter captures the main breakthroughs in the biotransformation of CO2 into different classes of valuable intermediates towards polymer synthesis.


Carbon dioxide Metabolic engineering Enzymatic catalysis Aromatic and aliphatic monomer In vivo synthetic polymer Plastic Circular economy Bio-refinery Eco-design Recyclability 















δ-Aminovaleric acid


ε-Aminocaproic acid


Alcohol dehydrogenase


Acyclic diene metathesis


Adenosine triphosphate


Atom transfer radical polymerization




Carbonic anhydrase


Compound annual growth rate


Cell dry weight


Carbon monoxide


Carbon dioxide




Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats interference


3-Deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate-7-phosphate synthase


Dihydroxyacetone phosphate


3,4-Dihydroxycinnamic acid


Extracellular polymeric substances


Feedback-inhibition-resistant 3-deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate-7-phosphate synthase


γ-Aminobutyric acid


Guanosine diphosphate


Glycerol dehydrogenase




Hydrogen carbonate


Isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside


Ketoglutarate decarboxylase


Lactate dehydrogenases


Malonyl-CoA reductase


Magnesium carbonate


Malonate semialdehyde


Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide


Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate


N-Acetyl-l-glutamate kinase


Tetra-n-butylammonium bromide-dimethylformamide


Nitroxide-mediated polymerization


Nitrogen oxides




Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxypropionate) copolymer


Poly(3-hydroxubutyrate-co-4-hydroxybutyrate) copolymer




Phenolic acid decarboxylase


Polybutylene succinate


p-Coumaric acid


p-Hydroxycinnamic acid decarboxylase




Medium-chain length polyhydroxyalkanoates




Short-chain length polyhydroxyalkanoates










Polylactic acid


Polytrimethylene terephthalate


Pyruvate decarboxylase


Oxygen-sensitive reductive acetyl-CoA pathway


Reversible addition fragmentation chain-transfer polymerization

rPP cycle

Reductive pentose phosphate cycle


Reductive tricarboxylic acid cycle


Solid-phase peptide synthesis


Succinate-semialdehyde dehydrogenase




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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Systems and Synthetic Biology Laboratory, Centre for Sustainable Future TechnologiesFondazione Istituto Italiano di TecnologiaTorinoItaly
  2. 2.Applied Science and Technology DepartmentPolitecnico di TorinoTorinoItaly

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