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Assessment of Plant and Microalgal Oil-Derived Nonisocyanate Polyurethane Products for Potential Commercialization

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journal contribution
posted on 15.09.2021, 08:43 by Tao Dong, Ermias Dheressa, Matthew Wiatrowski, Andre Prates Pereira, Ashton Zeller, Lieve M. L. Laurens, Philip T. Pienkos
Green pathways for nonisocyanate polyurethane (NIPU) production have attracted increasing levels of interest. The reaction between 5-membered cyclic carbonate and polyamines is one of the most promising pathways to produce NIPU polymers. Though promising, major technical hurdles such as slow polymerization rate and poor performance hinder the commercialization of NIPU. In this paper, we screened several commercially available triglyceride oil feedstocks for NIPU products, focusing on polymerization kinetics and product performance for industrial application. The impact of carbonated group density on polymerization rate and mechanical strength was determined. We have demonstrated a remarkably higher reactivity of carbonated oil derived from feedstocks with polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). The NIPU derived from such feedstocks also showed improved performance for industrial application. Unlike traditional polyurethane foam production that uses isocyanate and water to generate CO2 as a blowing reagent, there is no gas formation in NIPU polymerization. We have demonstrated a practical and cost-effective approach to produce NIPU foam material using bicarbonate as a blowing reagent. Furthermore, we conducted the first-ever technoeconomic analysis (TEA), revealing that profitable commercial NIPU production can be achieved when operating at sufficient production capacities.