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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Clemson University
  • Srikanth Pilla
  • (864) 283-7216
  • James S Sternberg
  • Chase Kasper
Award Date:06/11/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 250,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 250,000
  • FY 2021=$250,000
Start Date:09/01/2021
End Date:02/28/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:PFI-TT: A non-toxic, biobased, and recyclable polyurethane for foam-in-place packaging and rigid foam insulation.
Federal Award ID Number:2122822
DUNS ID:042629816
Parent DUNS ID:042629816
Program:PFI-Partnrships for Innovation
Program Officer:
  • Kaitlin Bratlie
  • (703) 292-2638

Awardee Location

Street:230 Kappa Street
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Clemson University
Street:230 Kappa St
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Partnerships for Innovation – Technology Translation (PFI-TT) project is the conversion from a toxic to benign manufacturing sequence for polyurethane foams in the packaging, insulation, and construction markets. Polyurethanes rank the 6th most produced plastic in the world yet use cancer-causing, mutagenic and reproductive toxins in their manufacture. This project combines a 100% biobased source with non-toxic ingredients to synthesize polyurethane foams that can be recycled back to their starting materials at their end-of-life. The ideal of reducing plastic waste in the environment and eliminating the use of carcinogenic material is desired across many industries. However, the use of one-time-use plastics in packaging applications as well as foams used for insulation has placed particular environmental focus on the polyurethane industry. This project addresses the need to transition from petroleum-based sources to biobased feedstocks and enable industrially viable processes for non-toxic polyurethanes in diverse commercial platforms. The successful outcome of this project would be a complete shift for the polyurethane industry by innovating new routes to polyurethanes that embrace a circular lifecycle. This project seeks to enable a room temperature foaming and curing protocol for a biobased, non-isocyanate polyurethane. Polyurethanes are manufactured commercially from polyols and isocyanates; The isocyanate carries significant health and safety dangers as it is a cancer-causing, mutagenic and a reproductive toxin (CMR). Non-isocyanate formulations in industry are currently very limited due to the inability to adapt new non-isocyanate chemistries to processing conditions typically used in industrial and commercial applications. To create reactive biobased precursors for synthesis, reductive catalytic fractionation (RCF) will be employed to woody feedstocks to extract an oil rich in bi-functional aromatic compounds capable of functionalizing with cyclic carbonates. A previous protocol will be leveraged to synthesize non-isocyanate polyurethane foams with specific chemical linkages capable of depolymerization post-synthesis. Room temperature foaming will be aided by catalyst optimization and a ultraviolet light-assisted curing process through the addition of acrylated monomers and reactive diluents containing vinyl groups. This approach will also facilitate the ability to vary the viscosity of the reaction mixture to produce low density foams for packaging applications. The successful outcome of the project may demonstrate a commercially viable process for producing non-toxic polyurethanes at room temperature that are specifically designed for degradation at their end-of-life. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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