Submitted to: BioEnergy Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2013
Publication Date: 11/9/2013
Citation: Liu, Z. 2013. Preparation of biopolymers from plant oils in green media. BioEnergy Research. 6:1230–1236.
Interpretive Summary: In this research, we discovered that soybean oil, epoxidized soybean oil and euphorbia oil would be converted to biodegradable polymers in liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) and supercritical CO2. CO2 is inexpensive, readily available and nonflammable. It is also an environmentally friendly processing and reaction medium with no toxic residues in the final products. Development of new uses for plant oils is eagerly needed in order to prevent price depression due to oversupply. Using “green” reaction media to make biodegradable polymers from plant oils is a very attractive area. The polymers prepared by this method will be explored for new uses in surfactants and hydrogels for personal care and health care through chemical functionalization.
Technical Abstract: The conversion of plant oils to polymers has attracted renewed attention in recent years to replace or augment the traditional petro-chemical based polymers and resins. This is because of concern for the environment, waste disposal, and depletion of fossil and non-renewable feedstocks. In this study, the polymerization of soybean oil (SBO), epoxidized soybean oil (ESO), and euphorbia oil (EuO) in carbon dioxide media (subcritical and supercritical conditions) catalyzed by Lewis acid were reported. The molecular structures of SBO, ESO and EuO affected the polymerization. It showed that epoxidized plant oils are easier to polymerize than SBO. The resulting polymers were characterized by FTIR, 1H-NMR, 13C-NMR, solid state 13C-NMR spectroscopies, differential scanning calorimetry, thermogravimetric analysis, and gel permeation chromatography.