Bio-Based Polymers with Performance-Advantaged Properties

Robin M. Cywar, Nicholas A. Rorrer, Caroline B. Hoyt, Gregg T. Beckham, Eugene Y.X. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

250 Scopus Citations


Bio-based compounds with unique chemical functionality can be obtained through selective transformations of plant and other non-fossil, biogenic feedstocks for the development of new polymers to displace those produced from fossil carbon feedstocks. Although substantial efforts have been invested to produce bio-based polymers that are chemically identical to and directly replace those from petroleum, a long-pursued goal is to synthesize new, sustainable, bio-based polymers that either functionally replace or exhibit performance advantages relative to incumbent polymers. Owing to anthropogenic climate change and the environmental consequences of global plastics pollution, the need to realize a bio-based materials economy at scale is critical. To that end, in this Review we describe the concept of performance-advantaged, bio-based polymers (PBPs), highlighting examples wherein superior performance is facilitated by the inherent chemical functionality of bio-based feedstocks. We focus on PBPs with C–O and C–N inter-unit chemical bonds, as these are often readily accessible from bio-based feedstocks, which are heteroatom-rich relative to petroleum-derived feedstocks. Finally, we outline guiding principles and challenges to aid progress in the development of PBPs.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)83-103
Number of pages21
JournalNature Reviews Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Alliance for Sustainable Energy, under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2021.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2A00-78149


  • bio-based feedstock
  • bio-based performance advantaged polymers
  • bio-based polymers


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