CbP – Camphor-based Polymers

Monomers from camphor enable biobased plastics

The substitution of petroleum based materials by renewable raw materials is one of the biggest challenges for industry. However, the continual increasing requirement of bio-based solutions, in particular in the polymer section, can be covered only to a limited extent by the industry. Especially in the field of polyamides, the sole bio-based alternative on the market is produced from castor oil and thus it is competing with food industry. Simultaneously, this product shows very low growth opportunities due to the limited availability of cultivable landscapes. Moreover, several reaction steps are necessary for the conversion of the natural crude oil to bio-based monomers for the polymer production.

Interestingly, waste materials from pulp industry can be used for the production of bio-based monomers for polyamides or polyesters as well. The contained terpenes are hydrophobic hydrocarbons and based on the low price and the large amounts of available material, they are interesting starting materials for the preparation of bio-based monomers.

To convert these raw materials in functional monomers, only a single reaction step is needed. Especially the terpene camphor, which is mainly achieved from waste materials of pulp industry in china, has great potential for the preparation of bio-polymers with unique properties due to the chemical structure. The deciding step for the usage of camphor in the bioeconomy is an efficient procedure for the selective oxidative functionalization to bio-based monomers.

Biocatalytic routes for the production of bio-based materials show advantages compared to chemical processes, in which drastic reaction conditions and environmentally hazardous chemicals are needed, while only moderate selectivities are obtained. Therefore, the aim of the project camphor based polymers is the development of a value chain for the production of sustainable bio-based polymers starting with the natural terpene camphor from Chinese raw material supply to German producers of polymers. 

Project information

Project title

CbP – Camphor-based Polymers


Project duration

January 2018 – December 2020


Project partners

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, Bio, Electro and Chemocatalysis BioCat, Straubing branch, Straubing, Germany
  • Technical University Munich, Munich, Germany (Coordinator)
  • South China University of Technology (SCUT), Guangzhou, China
  • Guangzhou Green Oil Industrial Co. Ltd., Guangzhou, China


We would like to thank the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for funding the project "Camphor-based polymers", promotional reference 031B0501B, programme "Bioeconomy international".

Federal Ministry of Education and Research.