Biorefinery pp 555-570 | Cite as

Recent Advances on Enzymatic Catalysis as a Powerful Tool for the Sustainable Synthesis of Bio-Based Polyesters

  • Alessandro PellisEmail author
  • Gibson S. Nyanhongo
  • Thomas J. Farmer


The biocatalyzed synthesis of polyesters is a field exploited since the 1980s when the potential of enzymes for catalyzing selective and stereospecific reactions was reported in several breakthrough studies. This chapter focuses on the most recent developments of enzymatic catalysis when applied in the field of bio-based polyester synthesis. A brief introduction summarizes the history and refreshes the memory of the reader on the most relevant reaction mechanisms. Subsequent sections discuss first the possibility of using novel biocatalysts for the synthesis of aliphatic polyesters, moving to polymers where the selectivity of enzymes and their mild reaction conditions are the key of success for producing functional products and ending with aliphatic-aromatic polyesters, highlighting issues and challenges that arose for the polycondensation of these important monomers. Finally, an outlook on the future perspectives and industrialization potential of this technology is given, supporting the ambitions of moving toward a greener polymer chemistry therefore fitting the current needs of moving away from the traditionally used petrochemical monomers.


Enzymatic polymerizations Bio-based polyesters Biocatalyzed synthesis Functional polyesters Candida antarctica lipase B (CaLB) Cutinases 





Candida antarctica lipase B


Cutinase 1 from Thermobifida cellulosilytica


Dibutyl tin oxide


Dimethyl adipate


Dimethyl itaconate


Ethylene glycol dimethacrylate


9,10-Epoxy-18-hydroxyoctadecanoic acid










Itaconic acid


CaLB covalently immobilized on epoxy-activated beads


iCut1 covalently immobilized on epoxy-activated beads


Methoxylated-poly(ethylene glycol)


Microwave energy


Novozyme 435




Poly(1,4-butylene succinate-co-1,4-butylene itaconate)


Poly(ethylene succinate)


Poly(glycerol adipate)


Poly(hydroxy alkanoates)


Ring-opening polymerization


Scandium trifluoromethanesulfonate


Supercritical CO2




Trimethylolpropane oxetane


Yarrowia lipolytica lipase





Alessandro Pellis thanks the FWF Erwin Schrödinger fellowship (grant agreement J 4014-N34 for financial support).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Pellis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gibson S. Nyanhongo
    • 2
  • Thomas J. Farmer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of York, Green Chemistry Centre of ExcellenceYorkUK
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental BiotechnologyUniversity of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, ViennaTullnAustria

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