Blacksburg, Virginia-Chemists from Virginia Tech university have developed a reactive soya-based chemical that they think may eventually provide an alternative to isocyanates.
Such a material, if successful, has much potential. Materials with better environmental credentials are becoming highly sought after in the polyurethanes sector as manufacturers aim for renewable, sustainable and recyclable alternatives to petrochemical based raw materials. For example, interest in polyols based on soya and other natural oils is running very high, as shown by the many announcements in the flexible foam and furniture sector on use of these 'greener' materials.
The Virginia Tech researchers are looking for bio-based alternatives and environmentally friendly reaction pathways to replace isocyanates, which they describe as "a toxic intermediate that is a critical component of many polymer products."A statement from the university said, "Isocyanates are important to many products we take for granted - from paint to spandex running shorts. But the high reactivity for which the chemical group is valued also makes this compound toxic when breathed."
"We are looking for alternative chemistry that offers the advantage of reactivity but is not toxic, and is cheaper than petroleum based chemistry," said Tim Long, professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech, in a "We are looking at bio-feedstocks such as soya-based triglycerides and peptides in combination with novel chemistry."
Virginia Tech graduate chemistry student Sharlene Williams of Springfield, Ohio, has created macromolecules with comparable reactivity using soya-based chemistry. She presented the research this week, at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago. (epw)"