Catalysts as Key Enablers for the Synthesis of Bioplastics with Sophisticated Architectures
Highly active and selective catalysts pave the way for the production of bioplastics with tailor?made properties. Comonomers can be used to alter the properties of the prominent bioplastic PLA. Besides the variation in the microstructure, a treasure not yet fully uncovered lies within the combination of different monomer classes in multimechanistic polymerizations.Bioplastics are one of the answers to environmental pollution and linear material flows. The most promising bioplastic polylactide (PLA) is already replacing conventional plastics in a number of applications. The properties of PLA, however, do not fit for all potential application areas, but they can be altered by the introduction of comonomers. The copolymerization of lactide (LA) with other lactones like ??caprolactone (CL) has been established for several years. Nevertheless, controlling copolymerizations remains a challenge due to the high complexity of the system. Copolymerization of LA with other monomer classes is much less investigated, but has the chance to overcome the limitations in material properties that occur when only lactones are used. The crucial factor for all copolymerizations is the catalyst. It dominates the reaction kinetics and determines the resulting microstructure. In this review, copolymerization catalysts for LA are presented divided into catalysts for the synthesis of lactone block copolymers, lactone random copolymers, and multimechanistically synthesized copolymers. The selected catalysts are highlighted either owing to their industrially applicable polymerization conditions or their non?standard mechanism.