Environment

Sustainable Chemistry

Designer of bio-based materials and sustainable chemistry

Green material, sustainable chemistry and biomass valorization are fundamental aspects of SPECIFIC POLYMERS’ research and development activities. Many industrial and collaborative projects are ongoing to find bio-based alternatives to fossil resources with industrial viability. Our research efforts are mainly dedicated to:

Developing bio-based alternatives to harmful and petroleum-based components (diglycidyether of bisphenol-A (DGEBA)) in epoxy or vinyl ester resins

Producing cyclocarbonates for the synthesis of polyhydroxyurethanes to replace toxic isocyanate-based polyurethane materials

Considering the end-of-life phase of thermoset materials by enabling their reprocessability, reparability & recyclability through vitrimer approaches

sustainable chemistry at SPECIFIC POLYMERS

SPECIFIC POLYMERS’ strategy for the development of thermoset materials

The company’s research activity is aimed at the development of innovative resins that fulfil all of the customer’s requirements in terms of process and final properties (i.e., built-to-specifications resins). Resin development is mainly based on experimental research, but SPECIFIC POLYMERS is moving toward the integration of digital modelling into its material development chain.

BIOBASED BUILDING BLOCKS TO SUBSTITUTE DGEBA IN EPOXY RESINS

Among all of the company’s R&D projects in the field of bio-based materials, special attention is given to bio-based epoxy building blocks that can be used as a substitute diglycidylether of bisphenol A (DGEBA) in epoxy-based thermoset materials.

Bio-based building block alternatives are synthesized and tailor-made according to the requirements of involved processes (RTM, pultrusion, impregnation, etc.), and take into account the end-users’ specifications in relation to applications as different as automotive, building industry or aeronautics.

In these areas, a representative study was dedicated to the synthesis of diglycidylether of vanillyl alcohol (DGEVA) made from vanillyl alcohol that can be extracted from lignin, and to phloroglucinol triglycidylether (PHTE) that can be extracted from algae or prepared from new biotechnologies. Both epoxy resins are aromatic multifunctional glycidyl ethers that can be combined to reach various thermomechanical properties.

Both epoxy resins were evaluated and used in the preparation of epoxy-amine materials. Resins formulated on the basis of DGEVA and PHTE can reach Tg at between 90°C and 180°C while exhibiting viscosity consistent with the studied process.

DGEVA

Phloroglucinol Tris Epoxy

EPOXIDIZED VEGETABLE OILS (EVOs)

With the increase of controversial epoxy compounds, research is geared more and more towards the development of bio-based and non-hazardous alternatives. Among them, vegetable oils (VOs) constitute the single, largest, renewable, low cost, non-toxic, non depletable and biodegradable family yielding materials that are capable of competing with fossil fuel derived petroleum-based products. Therefore, they find innumerable industrial applications such as plasticizers, biodiesel, lubricants, adhesives, biodegradable packaging materials, printing inks and paints and coatings.
The wealth of VOs resides in their composition which is particularly dependent on the nature of the oil, its geographical origin and its extraction process. VOs are generally composed of triglycerides based on three fatty acids joined at a glycerol junction. Fatty acids vary from 8 to 28 carbons in length, with 0 to 6 double bonds and may even contain functional groups. The most important fatty acids are mentioned below.
SPECIFIC POLYMERS’ researchers have developed an eco-friendly VO epoxidation process based on hydrogen peroxide, acetic acid and a supported acid catalyst. This synthetic pathway enables us to develop an energy/cost-efficient and high throughput general method for the preparation of epoxidized vegetable oils.

fatty acids at SPECIFIC POLYMERS

Structures of the most important fatty acids

Finally, thanks to the diversity of the oils, the epoxy content of the EVOs available in the SPECIFIC POLYMERS brochure (see leaflet enclosed in brochure) varies from 2.5 meq/g to 7.0 meq/g.

100% bio-based materials can be prepared either by UV or hardener-free thermocuring. Corresponding UV-cured materials show a range of glass transition temperatures from -34°C to 36°C, whereas the hardener-free thermocured EVO materials enable glass transition temperatures from -34°C to -6°C. However, by using an appropriate hardener, the glass transition temperature of related thermocured materials can be enhanced from 17°C to 91°C. Thus, a large range of mechanical properties are reachable, offering our customers a wide range of new possibilities for the development of epoxy biobased materials.

Epoxidized Castor Oil

Epoxidized Vegetable Oil

Epoxidized Cardanol Oil

ISOCYANATE-FREE POLYURETHANE RESINS

SPECIFIC POLYMERS dedicates a significant research effort to innovative cyclocarbonate functional building blocks for the synthesis of non-isocyanate polyurethane (NiPU) polymers or thermoset materials that can conventionally substitute polyurethane (PU) counterparts in various fields. Cyclocarbonate functional (macro) molecules are synthesized from corresponding epoxy by reacting with carbon dioxide (CO2). The possibility of using CO2, which is a by-product of many industrial processes, as an abundant, non-flammable and non-toxic building block, is promising in term of reducing dependence on fossil fuels in the corresponding process.

thermoset materials sustainable chemistry SPECIFIC POLYMERS

The most interesting pathway to synthesize NiPU is the polyaddition in between bifunctional cyclocarbonate and amine building blocks. Compared to the common synthesis of PU, the advantages of NiPU are: (i) a limited use of harmful precursors (neither isocyanate nor phosgene are needed as reactants), and (ii) the precursors (cyclocarbonates and amines) are not sensitive to moisture, which limits the well-known side reactions impacting PU synthesis. Those particular polymer materials have been widely studied and have found applications in a range of fields such as battery electrolytes, enzyme immobilization, adhesives and photopolymerizable coatings. Besides, poly(hydroxyurethane) appears o be an innovative and promising alternative to normal PU for tomorrow’s materials. Below, are some of our cyclocarbonate R&D products.

Poly(propylene glycol), α,ω-

bis(cyclocarbonate)

GMA

TMP Tricyclocarbonate

Resorcinol

bis(cyclocarbonate)

At SPECIFIC POLYMERS, we aim to develop non-isocyanate bio-based polyurethane (NibPU) materials to address sustainability issues, in addition to reducing product toxicity.

What a pleasure to hear from you!

Do not hesitate to contact us if you require more information or if you have any question on our expertise in the environmental field.