(430b) Scalable Production of Mechanically Tunable Block Polymers from Sugar

Authors: 
Xiong, M., University of Minnesota
Bates, F. S., University of Minnesota
Hillmyer, M. A., University of Minnesota
Zhang, K., University of Minnesota

Development of sustainable and biodegradable materials is essential for future growth of the chemical industry. For a renewable product to be commercially competitive, it must be economically viable on an industrial scale and possess properties akin or superior to existing petroleum-derived analogs. Few bio-based polymers have met this formidable challenge. To address this challenge, we develop an efficient bio-based route to the branched lactone, β-methyl-δ-valerolactone (βMδVL), which can be transformed into a rubbery (i.e., low glass transition temperature) polymer. Key features of this work include the creation of an artificial biosynthetic route to produce βMδVL and an efficient semisynthetic approach that employs high-yield chemical reactions to transform mevalonate (88 g/L) to βMδVL, and the use of controlled polymerization strategies to produce a new class of high performance polyesters with tunable mechanical properties. This comprehensive strategy offers an economically viable approach to sustainable plastics and elastomers for a broad range of applications. (Reference: Scalable production of mechanically tunable block polymers from sugar, PNAS 2014, IN PRESS)