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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bio-oils Research » Research » Research Project #436974

Research Project: New High-Value Biobased Materials with Applications Across Industry

Location: Bio-oils Research

Project Number: 5010-41000-186-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 19, 2020
End Date: May 18, 2025

Objective:
Objective 1: Resolving chemical processes advancing high-value polymers from agriculturally based oils and other feedstocks. Objective 2: Enabling commercially relevant biobased materials and fuels. Sub-objective 2.A. Transforming cellulose into porous composites used for controlled release or capture of analytes. Sub-objective 2.B. Use of catalytic technology to synthesize biobased fuels with higher value.

Approach:
Alternatives to petroleum-derived products from biobased products has been a research goal of private, university, and government researchers for many years. Although progress toward the goal of a major biobased economy is evident in several commercialized areas, such as biobased fuels, high profile business failures are unfortunately still commonplace in the private sector. The basis for biobased marketplace failures may be due to multiple factors, but enabling more high-value, cutting-edge products that expand the biobased market place is seen as a likely successful solution. This plan utilizes a balanced approach that combines mature technologies, with readily available markets, with newer and less developed areas of research. Existing markets, such as soybean oil-based structural resins and biobased aviation fuels, are targeted for improvements that will increase the biobased content of products that are already available in the marketplace. Entirely new products, such as biobased 3-dimensionally printed films and supercritical solvent-expanded ion absorbing resins, are proposed in this plan. Such an approach reaches across several industries while looking into the future at emerging technologies with market opportunities. More specifically, the first objective is the synthesis of high-value polymers. New reaction technologies and the application of polyfunctional co-reactants will lead to structures that have previously not been possible when starting from vegetable oils. The second objective will develop new materials from cellulosic feedstocks by transforming them into higher surface area polymers that can then be activated with further facile chemical modification. Additionally, newly developed decarboxylation technology will be leveraged to convert fatty acids into a high-value renewable hydrocarbon aviation fuel that mimics the composition of the corresponding petroleum-derived fuel.