Biorenewable Elastomers from Biodiesel Production Waste
WiSys is seeking partners for further development of elastomeric high-molecular weight polycycloacetals through optimization studies to evaluate different additives and degradation properties. Methods for their synthesis will be refined to scale the process and make it more economical in order to provide a route to market for commercialization.
Stage of Development:
A process has been discovered to synthesize elastomeric high-molecular weight polycycloacetals from diglycerol and meso‐erythritol. Stress-strain curves for the developed polycycloacetals as compared to a rubber band show the opportunity for optimization. Preliminary studies also show promising degradable properties for these materials. The next steps are to incorporate additives to further enhance their properties, as well their adhesive and degradation properties.
Elastomers are used in many key industries, including automotive; medical; consumer gods; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; electrical & electronics; construction; and footwear. The chief characteristics are that such materials can repeatedly bend, bounce, flex, and tolerate stresses and return to their original shape and size. The interplay between these positive mechanical properties and degradability is the key to significantly reduce the negative environmental impacts of plastics while maintaining their critical roles to society.
The market for elastomers is expected to grow annually by 5% through 2024. In addition to an increase demand from markets in the Asia-Pacific, there is a shifting focus in the industry for the development of bio-based products. This reflects the growing need for environmentally friendly polymers as the negative impacts of plastics become more evident. One of the primary compounds in this project is glycerol, which is produced in large quantities as a waste product in biodiesel, soap, and animal rendering industries. The market size for glycerol is expected to reach USD 3 billion by 2022, with increasing demand from personal care, medicine, and other products.
An associate professor of chemistry at Northland College, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has successfully synthesized elastomeric high-molecular weight polycycloacetals derived from diglycerol and meso‐erythritol. The discussion of which was published in the Journal of Applied Polymer Science and can be viewed at this link. As discovered here, there is a process for turning diglycerol into an elastomer for such lower-grade rubber items like rubber bands. Stress-strain curves for the developed polycycloacetals as compared to a rubber band show the opportunity for optimization. The next steps are to incorporate additives to further enhance their properties, as well their adhesive and degradation properties.
Applications and Key Benefits
- Elastomers have a wide range of applications depending on their mechanical properties and grade (e.g. gloves, matting, toy balloons, rubber bands, adhesives and pencil erasers etc.
- Materials are created from biorenewable materials from repurposed industrial waste (e.g. glycerol) and are degradable
- Preliminary studies support the potential for chemical recycling