Lipase-catalyzed ring-opening polymerization of lactones: a novel route to poly(hydroxyalkanoate)s

Geoffrey A R Nobes, Romas J. Kazlauskas, Robert H. Marchessault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Lipases from porcine pancreas and from Pseudomonas cepacia catalyze the ring-opening polymerization of lactones. Polymerization of the four-membered β-butyrolactone in up to 89% yield with a degree of polymerization of 3-12. Polymerization of the four-membered β-propiolactone, the five-membered γ-butyrolactone, and the seven-membered ε-caprolactone also yielded the corresponding polyesters in good yields with degrees of polymerization up to 25. Coordination catalysts, such as alumoxanes, fail in the homopolymerization of γ-butyrolactone; thus this lipase route is the first homopolymerization of γ-butyrolactone. To characterize the product polyesters, we used the method of MALDI-TOF mass spectroscopy to determine both the true molecular weight of the components and the mass of the repeat unit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4829-4833
Number of pages5
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 1 1996


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