Conversion of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) to methyl crotonate for the production of biobased monomers

J. Spekreijse, J.E.L. Le Notre, J.P.M. Sanders, E.L. Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Within the concept of the replacement of fossil with biobased resources, bacterial polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) can be obtained from volatile fatt y acids (VFAs) from agro-food waste streams and used as an intermediate toward attractive chemicals. Here we address a crucial step in this process, the conversion of PHB to methyl crotonate (MC), which can be converted via cross- metathesis w ith ethylene to methyl acrylate and propylene, two important monomers for the plastics industry. The conversion of PHB to MC proceeds via a thermolysis of PHB to crotonic acid (CA), followed by an esterification to MC. At pressures below 18 bar, the thermolysis of PHB to CA is the rate-determining step, where above 18 bar, the esterification of CA to MC becomes rate lim- iting. At 2008C and 18 bar, a full conversion and 60% selectiv ity to MC is obtained. This conversion circumvents processing and application issues of PHB as a polymer and allows PHB to be used as an intermediate to produce biobased chemicals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number42462
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Polymer Science
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • gas-chromatographic analysis
  • thermal-degradation
  • poly(-(d)-beta-hydroxybutyric acid)
  • quantitative-analysis
  • abiotic hydrolysis
  • activated-sludge
  • molecular-weight
  • polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • poly(3-hydroxybutyrate)
  • alkaline


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