Petroleum Free Polyurethanes: A Synthesis From Seed Oils
Authors:Eric Cull, AnhMinh Ton
Mentor:Michael Page, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Currently, many consumer polyurethane products are synthesized with petroleum feedstocks. Our research looks to replace the petroleum components with renewable resources such as plant oils, while maintaining the physical and structural properties of existing materials. These green materials would not only delay the depletion of petroleum, but also have the potential to feature a more eco-friendly formulation. Castor oil and sunflower seed oil were transesterified to form the Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) of the respective starting materials. The FAME of sunflower seed oil also underwent epoxidation and hydroxylation of the olefin side-chain. By this method, we hoped to incorporate a FAME containing a poly-hydroxyl functionality that could be cross-linked and help add rigidity to the eco-friendly material. By varying formulations, we are able to tune the polyurethanes hardness, which may expand the functionality of this material. Following a curing process of the polyurethanes, the FT-IR results displayed resonance at 3333.3, 2244.3, 1724.6, 1522.5 and 1218.1 cm-1, demonstrating that a material containing multiple urethanes had formed. The polyurethanes were found to have solubilities in THF ranging from 0.00% to 26.07%, demonstrating high levels of cross-linking that is currently being confirmed by GPC analysis. Further more these polymers have shown a Tg ranging from 1.01° C to 58.05° C and a Tm ranging from 308.67° C to 325.25° C, depending on the exact composition of the formulation. These green materials are showing potential to be highly cross-linked with thermal properties that suggest they could serve commercial purposes.