SBIR Phase I: Composites based on High Bio-content, Low Toxicity, Green Matrix Resins
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will establish the feasibility of 90% plant-based polymer systems as matrices for composite materials. These composites will displace petroleum-based thermoset chemistries including polyester, vinylester, epoxy, and urethanes. Although commercial bio-content resins exist currently, they are still 50 to 75% petroleum-based, whereas the renewable bio-base content of the proposed systems will be as high as 90%. The research objectives of the Phase I project will be 1) synthesis of small quantities of these resins, 2) composite sample preparation and testing, and 3) evaluation of alternative synthetic routes for improved performance. The University of Akron, well known for macromolecular engineering of novel polymeric materials, will be subcontracted to formulate resins at up to 10 L scale and to develop synthetic routes to impart additional reactivity and specific performance attributes to the polymers. We will prepare composite material test specimens and evaluate manufacturability along with projected cost. Materials testing will be done to establish performance levels and identify areas of needed improvement. These efforts will provide the data required to establish performance, manufacturability, cost and market viability of the matrix systems and composites. The broader impact and commercial potential of this project encompass all products that currently utilize petroleum-based thermoset resins, which include chemicals of significant environmental health and safety (EH & S) concern, such as styrene, bisphenol A, and isocyanate. A rapidly renewable alternative would not only provide safer chemistries, it would mitigate the growing domestic insecurity due to depleting oil reserves and dependence on foreign oil from unstable regions of the world. In recent years, market demands have been accelerating in terms of environmental health and safety. Increasingly, businesses are compelled by the market pull for green products and operations, as well as regulatory considerations, to consider issues surrounding limited resources and the sustainability of our ecosystems, workplaces, and homes. Manufacturers of polymer-based reinforced composites have been scrambling to meet these expectations through incremental improvements of conventional technologies. This proposal is a shift from this paradigm to integration of a new chemistry for polymer matrices for reinforced composites. These resins will have a competitive advantage, due to their domestic and predictable raw material feed stream, increased green content, reduced carbon footprint, and lower toxicity.
Small Business Information at Submission:
3365 E Center St North Kingsville, OH 44068-1234
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