Assessment of Plant and Microalgal Oil-Derived Nonisocyanate Polyurethane Products for Potential Commercialization

Tao Dong, Ermias Dheressa, Matthew Wiatrowski, Andre Prates Pereira, Ashton Zeller, Lieve M.L. Laurens, Philip T. Pienkos

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Green pathways for nonisocyanate polyurethane (NIPU) production have attracted increasing levels of interest. The reaction between 5-membered cyclic carbonate and polyamines is one of the most promising pathways to produce NIPU polymers. Though promising, major technical hurdles such as slow polymerization rate and poor performance hinder the commercialization of NIPU. In this paper, we screened several commercially available triglyceride oil feedstocks for NIPU products, focusing on polymerization kinetics and product performance for industrial application. The impact of carbonated group density on polymerization rate and mechanical strength was determined. We have demonstrated a remarkably higher reactivity of carbonated oil derived from feedstocks with polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). The NIPU derived from such feedstocks also showed improved performance for industrial application. Unlike traditional polyurethane foam production that uses isocyanate and water to generate CO2 as a blowing reagent, there is no gas formation in NIPU polymerization. We have demonstrated a practical and cost-effective approach to produce NIPU foam material using bicarbonate as a blowing reagent. Furthermore, we conducted the first-ever technoeconomic analysis (TEA), revealing that profitable commercial NIPU production can be achieved when operating at sufficient production capacities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12858-12869
Number of pages12
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number38
Early online date15 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Michelle Legatt (formerly of Patagonia) for helpful discussions during the course of this work, Dr. Michael Griffin for ATR-FTIR support, and Skylar Schutter for language editing. This work was authored by Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, the manager and operator of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under Contract No. DE-AC36-08-GO28308. Funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) and Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO). The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of the DOE or the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the U.S. Government retains a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for U.S. Government purposes.


  • algae
  • bio-based polymer
  • kinetics
  • nonisocyanate polyurethane
  • technoeconomic analysis
  • vegetable oil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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