A New Polymer from Bio-Oil
The vast majority of today’s polymers, plastics, foams, synthetic fiber, adhesives, and coatings are made from oil, which is non-renewable, non-biodegradable, depends in large part on foreign sources, is highly sensitive to regional conflicts, and has a large carbon footprint. Unfortunately, today’s selection of renewable polymeric materials is extremely limited and most are low-performance, low-value materials. Thus the objective of this research is to develop a renewable high-performance engineering thermoplastic to replace current petroleum-based materials.
Increasing the use of renewable materials will reduce the carbon footprint on the products we use, the challenges associated with waste disposal, and the risk of accumulation of persistent chemicals. It will give future generations alternative materials to make plastic, fibers and coatings when oil will become scarce.
Fast pyrolysis is one of the thermal processes that are being developed to make biofuel from biomass. It produces a liquid that can be used both as fuel and a source of chemicals. Fast pyrolysis could be a cost-competitive process if (as with petroleum) it can be fractionated and converted both to fuels and high-value chemicals.
The objective of this Phase I SBIR project is to synthesize and characterize a new family of biomimetic polymers that are made from an economic, non-toxic and renewable monomer. This monomer is a major component (up to 17% wt.) of the bio-oil that is obtained from the fast pyrolysis cellulose. We expect that the proposed family of polymers will have exceptional mechanical properties and good processing characteristics and could be used as bio-derived alternative to replace a wide range of petroleum based thermoplastic polymers. The proposed polymers will also be environmentally friendly and could be engineered for either biodegradability or have long-term stability.
Description of Effort
During the Phase I project we plan to synthesize various stereo-chemical forms of the proposed polymer via chemical and fermentation methods, and characterize the chemical, physical and mechanical properties of the products. We will also evaluate their degradation rate under hydrolytic and enzymatic conditions.
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