(129d) Taking Advantage of Nature's Building Blocks for the Advancement of Bio-Based Polymers and Composites
The utilization of wood-derived building blocks (xylochemicals) and other abundantly available, non-food biomasses to replace fossil-based precursors is an attractive research subject in modern polymer science and engineering. The continuing development of economically viable bio-based feedstocks and subsequent, new platform chemicals opens opportunities to increase the resource base from which chemical and materials engineers can draw to meet specific polymer and composite property requirements. Recently, significant efforts have transpired to obtain bio-based polymers and composites with enhanced thermomechanical properties for a wide variety of applications, from adhesives to coatings to under-the-hood, lightweight, yet geometrically complex vehicle components. In continuing these efforts, we have prepared and examined a variety of bio-based thermoplastics, thermosets, and composites, including epoxies, vinyl esters, allyl ethers, polyesters, and polycarbonates with and without reinforcing fibers. These novel materials were strategically assembled from monomers based on lignin-derived, (hemi)cellulose-derived, and cashew nut shell liquid-derived platform chemicals. This presentation will highlight our work on fundamentally understanding the processing-structure-property relationships of our bio-based polymers and composites via thermal analysis, mechanical, and modeling techniques. Additionally, their utilities in military and civilian applications will be discussed.