Biobased polymers and additives

The term biobased polymers includes naturally occurring polymers such as cellulose, lignin, starch, chemically obtained derivatives such as cellulose acetate, and polymers of biobased monomers such as polyamide 11 (PA11), which is produced from 11-aminoundecanoic acid gained from castor oil pressed from castor beans. If monomers already known from petrochemistry, e.g. diethylene glycol for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are obtained from renewable resources they are called drop-in monomers. The molecular structure and properties of the resulting plastics are exactly identical to their fossil-based counterparts. In addition, the various chemical structures of biogenic resources give way to the production of completely novel polymers with remarkable properties. At Fraunhofer IGB, Straubing branch, the development of innovative biobased polymers and additives is an important focus of research. The scope ranges from the chemical modification of polysaccharides, the controlled degradation of lignin and the conversion of biomolecules to special polymers to the production of biobased plasticizers and nucleating agents.


In the spotlight: Monoterpenes for plastic applications

Monoterpenes are biomolecules that are produced by a wide diversity of plants, microorganisms and fungi in an exceptional structural variety and can be obtained from industrial waste streams from the paper or the juice industry, for example. As they are convenient for chemical modification, contain only small amounts of heteroatoms, are of a suitable molecular size, and possess chemical structures resulting in special (polymer) properties, monoterpenes are considered as a promising raw material for biobased plastic applications. The chemical and enzymatical modification of naturally occurring monoterpenes to polymerizable monomers and (partly) biobased additives are intensively researched at the IGB Straubing site.


  • Identification of suitable biomolecules for plastic applications
  • Purposive chemical or enzymatical functionalization of biomolecules
  • Polymer functionalization
  • Characterization of novel molecules
  • Determination of structure-function relations
  • Scaling up to 4.0 liters reaction volume
  • Small scale polymerizations
  • Polymer characterization
  • Small scale polymer processing (extrusion, injection molding, pressing)


Kleybolte, M. M., Zainer, L., Liu, J. Y., Stockmann, P. N., Winnacker, M. (+)-Limonene-Lactam: Synthesis of a Sustainable Monomer for Ring-Opening Polymerization to Novel, Biobased Polyamides. Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 2022, 43 (17), 2200185.

Stockmann, P. N., Van Opdenbosch, D., Poethig, A., Pastötter, M., Lessig, S., Raab, J., Woelbing, M., Falcke, C., Winnacker, M,, Zollfrank, C., Strittmatter, H., Sieber, V. Biobased chiral semi-crystalline or amorphous high-performance polyamides and their scalable stereoselective synthesis. Nature Communciations, 2020, 11(1), 1-12,

Stockmann P. N., Pastötter, D. L., Wölbing, M., Falcke, C., Winnacker, M., Strittmatter, H., Sieber, V. New Bio-Polyamides from Terpenes: α-Pinene and (+)-3-Carene as Valuable Resources for Lactam Production. Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 2019, 40 (11), 1800903,

Stockmann, P., Strittmatter, H., Sieber, V., Falcke, C. Isomer-enriched 3-Caranlactams and polyamides based thereon with high optical purity and adjustable crystallinity for high-performance application, PCT/EP2019/055124

Ranganathan, S., Sieber, V. Development of semi-continuous chemo-enzymatic terpene epoxidation: combination of anthraquinone autooxidation and the lipase-mediated epoxidation process. Reaction Chemistry & Engineering, 2017, 2(6), pp. 885 – 895,

Roth, S., Funk, I., Hofer, M., Sieber, V. Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of a Novel Borneol‐Based Polyester. ChemSusChem, 2017, 10(18), 3574-3580,

Hofer, M., Strittmatter, H., Sieber, V. Biocatalytic Synthesis of a Diketobornane as a Building Block for Bifunctional Camphor Derivatives. ChemCatChem, 2013, 5(11): p. 3351-3357,

Terpene-based polyamides: Caramid-R® and Caramid-S®

Caramid-R® and Caramid-S® are examples of a new class of polyamides that are produced from monoterpenes which are a side product of the pulp and paper industry. Starting from 3-carene, new lactams are synthesized by a patented process and subsequently polymerized to Caramid-R® and Caramid-S®.



… for further information refer to our press release:

New building blocks from terpenes


Terpenes, secondary components of plants, are a by-product during the production of cellulose for paper. We work on new synthesis pathways for the utilization of terpenes.

Reference projects

Duration: October 2020 – November 2021

LiMeOx –

Monoterpene ester oxides as biobased plasticizers for polymers

In the LiMeOx project tailor-made biobased plasticizers are produced from monoterpenes.


Duration: July 2019 – June 2022

ChitoMat –

Holistic Chitin conversion to materials for 3D printing application and performance animal feed additives

Holistic Chitin conversion to materials for 3D printing application and performance animal feed additives.

Duration: February 2019 – June 2022

Xylophon –

Development of a biotechnological platform for the utilization of xylan-enriched biomass waste streams for the production of sustainable lubricant additives


Duration: January 2021 – December 2023

Fraunhofer lighthouse project "ShaPID"

Shaping the Future of Green Chemistry by Process Intensification and Digitalization

To demonstrate that sustainable, green chemistry can be achieved through practical technological innovations in process intensification and digitalization, new technology developments in four complementary areas are being driven forward in a targeted manner.


Duration: January 2019 – December 2023


Laboratory for Technical Biopolymers

The Laboratory for Technical Biopolymers is a project funded by the State of Bavaria and serves to support companies, especially SMEs, on their way to innovative and sustainable substances and materials as well as to resource-efficient processes. At Fraunhofer IGB, specialists from chemistry, biology and process engineering are working together on the project.


Duration: April 2017 – March 2020

TerPa –

Terpenes as building blocks for biobased polyamides

In the TerPa project, which is funded by the BMEL via the FNR, amorphous or semi-crystalline polyamides are being developed from terpenes produced as waste in wood processing. In this way, we aim to open up new areas of application for these high-performance materials.

Duration: October 2017 – January 2021 / February 2021 – January 2024


Polymer fibers from biobased furanoates targeting industrial grade

The aim is to develop a process for the purification of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA).

Further projects