CARBIOS opens a new biological pathway with its one-step PLA production process

The development of biosourced plastics began in the year 2000 as a result of the development of vegetable chemistry.  A need was identified to supply the market with products made from renewable resources as an alternative to petrochemical products. At present, biosourced polymers are 2 to 4 times more expensive than conventional plastics produced from oil.

Reducing the cost of biosourced polymers is therefore a strategic challenge to increase the competitiveness of this fast-growing market. This goal is well aligned with the recent French “Energy Transition Law” for green growth and the emergence of “green products”.

Given their broad range of properties, biosourced polymers are now in competition with conventional fossil fuel-based polymers in different sectors (packaging, automotives, textiles, biomedicine, etc.).

Among these biopolymers, polylactic acid (PLA) is currently one of the most promising, given its remarkable properties, as it meets the requirements of a broad range of applications.

CARBIOS has decided to focus initially on the development of a new way of producing PLA directly from lactic acids by avoiding the expensive intermediary step consisting in the synthesis of a lactid.

CARBIOS’ Innovation: in vivo enzymatic polymerisation of lactic acid into PLA

Current manufacturing processes to produce PLA require four successive steps:

  1. A bio-refining step in order to obtain fermentable sugars (glucose, sucrose) from different biomasses;
  2. A sugar fermentation step to produce lactic acid;
  3. A chemical step to condense lactic acid to obtain lactide; and
  4. A chemical polymerization step to obtain PLA.

CARBIOS has developed the first 100% biological pathway to synthetize PLA which consists in the enzymatic polymerization of lactic acid into a PLA polymer of high-molecular weight without any intermediary step. 

To conceive this original metabolic pathway to synthetize PLA was a true scientific and technological challenge of industrial biology achieved with help from the Toulouse-based teams of the INRA and the INSA (TWB and the LISPB), partners of CARBIOS in the collaborative research and development program THANAPLASTTM.

This innovation, a result of our collaborative model, is well aligned with the recent French “Energetic Transition Law” for green growth and the emergence of biosourced products.

CARBIOS turns biosourced polymers into a viable mass substitute to petrochemical plastics

Go to top