SBIR Phase I: Low Cost, Low Energy, Biodegradable, Renewable SAP

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
TMS Associates LLC
411 Sergeant drive, Suite 200, Lambertville, NJ, 08530-2234
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Asya Bakhtina
(609) 542-0090
Business Contact:
Asya Bakhtina
(609) 542-0090
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is aimed at the development of super absorbent polymeric (SAP) materials derived entirely from renewable resources and produced by a low-energy, water-based process. We have discovered an unexpected phenomenon whereby a hydrogel can be prepared and dried in a way as to exhibit comparable performance to petrochemical-based SAPs in water absorption and retention (and with the potential for superior performance). Current SAPs are petrochemical based products that suffer from both cost fluctuations and a lack of biodegradability. Our discovery of using renewable plant- and animal-based starting materials serves to eliminate these two major concerns. This new methodology represents a step change. Besides being highly absorbent, renewable, and biodegradable, tailoring the hydrogels' properties will not require alterations in the process chemistry. Immobilizing the osmotically active agent (cellulose sulfate) in a hydrophilic gelatin matrix crosslinked with the hydrophilic compound isosorbide bisepoxide enables a flexible platform technology that can be tuned to address a wide range of applications in a facile manner. The main objective of the Phase I is to determine and validate the optimal compositions of the hydrogels which allow for maximum water uptake. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will stem from the potential to provide an environmentally-responsible alternative to the current dominant acrylate-based super absorbent materials. Global market demand for highly absorbent polymers is projected to reach 1.9 million metric tons by the year 2015, led by emerging economies, rapidly aging populations, and growing health awareness among consumers. There is increasing concern that consumer products based on these materials will become a landfill issue as populations increase and lifespans lengthen. The proposed novel SAP materials based on completely biodegradable polysaccharides and gelatin formulations potentially represent a solution to this critical environmental problem. Further, this technology represents a core platform renewable source SAP that can be modified for water uptake and other physical properties. Interest from major specialty chemical companies also indicates the possibility for expansion into other applications that may include the controlled release of drugs, bacteriocins and other active agents, agricultural water management, oil/gas fracking, and waste management.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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