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Chemistry Undergraduate Research -- Green Chemistry Yields New Type of Polyurethane Foam Surfactant

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Published on Aug 1, 2012

Our research group is working in partnership with a small industrial firm, Carolina Specialty Chemicals LLC (CSC), along with the manufacturing firms Ele'/ Pelron, and Emery Oleochemicals to develop a new class of chemicals for use in the polyurethane industry. A major push in industrial and academic research these days is developing alternative materials based on renewable biological sources. The use of renewable materials from readily cultivated bio-based sources is one of the key tenets of the "Green Chemistry" movement, and will allow for the long term supply of critical reagents for engineered materials, medicines, and other chemical products.

One of the major polymers synthesized in the world are polyurethanes, which find application in paints, fibers, rubber, and foams. To increase the amount of biologically based green chemicals in the reactions to make polyurethanes, many ancillary chemicals are needed. We are focusing on the rigid and flexible polyurethane foam market, which includes engineered materials used in a wide range of applications from high quality insulation through almost all seating cushions. Over the last year we have developed synthesis routes that allow us to prepare surface active materials for testing in reasonable yields, along with analytical methods for testing the new surfactants.

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