Biobased Thermosetting Polymers

Thermosetting plastics are polymer materials which are liquid or malleable at low temperatures, but which change irreversibly to become hard at high temperatures. A major effort is underway to recognize biobased epoxy resins that can substitute for existing petroleum-based materials such as bis-phenol A diglycidyl ether[C21H24O4] (BADGE). Unfortunately, bis-phenol A (BPA) is particularly problematic as it is differentiated as a reprotoxic R2 substance and an endocrine disruptor. The production of overall epoxy thermosetting polymers is estimated to be 2 million tons in 2010 and is projected to reach 3 million tons by 2017. Their global market was estimated at about US$18 billion in 2012 and is forecasted to reach US$21.5 billion by 2015. More than 60% of the overall production is used in the coatings industry. Furthermore, epoxies are apparently the most versatile family of adhesives because they are compatible with many substrates, and can be easily modified to attain widely varying properties. Control of properties and also processing is usually based on the selection of the relevant epoxy precursors or combination of monomers, on the selection of curing agents and associated reaction mechanism, and on the inclusion of organic or inorganic fillers and components. Work is underway to develop BPA replacements from various biobased feedstocks’ as well lignin derived chemicals.

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