(5p) Bio-Based Materials from Renewable Resources | AIChE

(5p) Bio-Based Materials from Renewable Resources


Campanella, A. - Presenter, University of Houston

Due to the increased cost and depletion of petroleum-based materials, combined with the desire to move towards greener products, there has recently been renewed interest to replace part, if not all, of the conventional products with those made from natural resources. The use of these products have both economic and environmental advantages, thereby making them attractive alternatives to petroleum-based materials ? namely, natural oils are a renewable resource, environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and are relatively inexpensive. In this poster I will highlight my doctoral and postdoctoral research that was primarily focused on the development of new processing technologies based on the modification of vegetable oils for their conversion into higher value-added products.

During my doctoral studies I worked in the production of epoxidized vegetable oils and synthesis of ring-opening reactions, trying to improve the production by heterogeneous catalyst. Research efforts were on multiphasic systems (liquid-liquid and liquid-liquid-solid) analyzing the impact of the main process variables and studying the overall reaction rate, modeling separately all the transport and intrinsic kinetic steps, and identification in each case the constants of reaction.

My postdoctoral work focused on the design of synthetic pathways for the production of monomers from plant triglycerides, using a broad range of chemical routes to produce polymeric materials; more specifically, in the development and characterization of bio-based polyurethane foams, studying the morphology to better understand how the reactions taking place during the production of this product affect the foam structure. Also, design strategies were implemented to replace styrene in the production of triglyceride-based thermosetting polymers. All resins currently used employed in industrial production of polymers and composites contain high concentrations of reactive diluents to allow resin transfer molding. Styrene is typically employed, but it is both a hazardous pollutant and a volatile organic compound. Therefore, non-volatile reactive diluents, such as fatty acids offer an alternative over current reactive diluents. Investigation focused in the synthesis of chemically modified fatty acids and the characterization of their polymer analogs to produce materials with properties comparable to commercial products.