Biobased alternative for critical component of many polymer products

Virginia Tech chemists are looking for biobased alternatives and environmentally friendly reaction pathways to replace a toxic intermediate that is a critical component of many polymer products.

Isocyanates are important to many products we take for granted, from paint to spandex running shorts. But the high reactivity for which the chemical group is valued also makes this compound toxic when breathed.

Sharlene R. Williams of Springfield, Ohio, a graduate student in chemistry at Virginia Tech, has created macromolecules with comparable reactivity using soy-based chemistry. She presented the research at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago.

"We are looking for alternative chemistry that offers the advantage of reactivity but is not toxic, and is cheaper than petroleum based chemistry," said Tim Long, professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech. "We are looking at bio-feedstocks such as soy-based triglycerides and peptides in combination with novel chemistry."

Williams has demonstrated that a process called the "Michael addition" induces reactivity in soy proteins, and also improves mechanical properties of the bio-based polymer.

"Agriculture-based polymers may offer comparable performance to petroleum-based polymers," said Long. "They offer strength and elasticity. We think the Michael addition reaction offers the opportunity to address elastomer technology challenges with safer reactivity."

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
You might also like... ×
Key China COVID-19 study produced results that influenced subsequent research on coronavirus