Algal Derived Polyurethane

Stage: Development

Global Market Insight’s 2016-2023 report on the synthetic and bio polyurethane (PU) market projects the global PU market to experience a CAGR of 5% through 2023 from the estimated value of 16 million tons in 2015. Traditionally, PU polymers have been formed by reacting di- or poly-isocyanates with a polyol that varies in both composition and structure (e.g. glycerol, sorbitol, or sucrose as the polyol and toluene di-isocyanate or methyl diphenyl di-isocyanate as the common aromatic isocyanate linkers). Due to the use of nonrenewable petroleum to produce PU, though, there have been advancements made to produce polyols via triglycerides generated from renewable sources (e.g., soybean oil). However, these methods continue the use of isocyanates, which follow a toxic synthetic route and produce hydrochloric acid, to link polyols in the production of PU. Thus, there is a need for more sustainable methods of producing PU that do not use isocyanates.



NREL researchers have developed a method to produce renewable polyurethane (PU) by utilizing precursors of algal amino acids (and peptides) and fatty acids. This novel method enables the production of PU with unique physical and chemical properties dependent upon the use of various amino acids and peptides. In addition, this method is not dependent upon the use of nonrenewable, toxic isocyanates, enabling the production of PU with significantly reduced toxicity.

For more information, please contact Eric Payne at Eric.Payne@nrel.gov

ROI 17-11

Applications and Industries

  • Polyurethane production
  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Furniture and Bedding
  • Styrofoam

Benefits

  • Eliminates use of toxic isocyanates
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Requires fewer petroleum products within production
  • Unique chemical and physical properties