Rethinking Polyester Polyurethanes

Rethinking Polyester Polyurethanes

Algae Based Renewable, Sustainable, Biodegradable and Recyclable Materials

1st Edition - April 17, 2023

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  • Editor: Robert Pomeroy
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323999823

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Rethinking Polyester Polyurethanes: Algae Based Renewable, Sustainable, Biodegradable and Recyclable Materials explains how and why bio-based materials, specifically algae, will change the polymer industry. The book provides background on algae, polyurethanes (PUs), and their everyday use. It covers the biology and chemistry behind how and why these materials are engineered to be both biodegradable and, through the process of depolymerization, fully recyclable. Chapters cover Re-evaluating the Sources, Redefining the Analytics, Reformulating Polyester Polyurethanes, and The Future. The latter part of the book describes the landscape of bio-based materials, the eco-consumer, and insights into the industry problem of “greenwashing.” This book is a valuable resource for industry professionals who use polyurethanes in the supply chain for manufactured products, those in sales and marketing or regulatory roles who wish to better understand the unique advantages of bio-based materials, and researchers studying R&D of biobased polyurethanes or remediation of microplastics pollution on land and in bodies of fresh and saltwater worldwide.

Key Features

  • Builds on the foundation of sustainable, renewable, biodegradable, recyclable microplastics, with lifecycle assessment, techno-economic analysis, and the green premium
  • Clarifies the true economics—if we were to go back to initial development of the plastics industry, what would we do differently?
  • Covers the basic science—the knowledge required to effectively communicate the use of materials that are on first examination more expensive, but on closer examination less expensive when environmental consequences are factored


Industry professionals who use polyurethanes in the supply chain for manufactured products, those in sales and marketing or regulatory roles who wish to better understand the unique advantages of bio-based materials, researchers studying R&D of biobased polyurethanes or remediation of microplastics pollution on land and in bodies of fresh and salt water worldwide; Students in environmental chemistry, science, and policy courses in chemistry, polymer and materials science, biology, engineering, and business

Table of Contents

  • 1: Rethinking Polyester Polyurethanes
    1.1 The role of ocean plastics in reshaping polyurethane chemistry
    1.2 Atom economy: Petroleum versus Plant and Algae Oils
    1.2.3 Separation of concerns and the valorization of petroleum
    1.2.2 The Corafam Story
    1.2.3 Modern polyurethanes: the move to polyethers
    1.2.1a Chemical consequences
    1.3.1 The environmental consequence of the decision
    1.3.2 The “Green” Consumer and the need for transparency
    Transition: Chapter outline

    Section A – Re-evaluating the Sources

    2: Why Algae and Plant Oils?
    2.1.1 Ancient algae and cyanobacteria as source of petroleum
    2.1.2 Introduction: Modern algae as a sustainable agricultural product
    The Foundations: Algae as a natural source of industrial products
    2.2.1 Diversity of algae
    2.2.2 Diversity of current and potential products
    2.2.3 Algae as an engineered source of industrial production
    2.2.4 Genetically manipulatable species
    2.2.5 Genetic tools
    2.2.6 Demonstrated product production in algae
    2.3.1 Scalability and sustainability
    2.3.2 Current practices
    2.3.3 Future challenges

    3: Renewable, Sustainable Sources and Bio-Based Monomers
    3.1 Natural oils: A source for polyols
    The Foundations
    3.2.1 Biobased polyols for polyurethanes
    3.2.2 Biobased isocyanates for polyurethanes
    3.3.1 Increasing the bio-content and biodegradation

    Section B - Redefining the Analytics

    4: Biodegradation: The Biology
    4.1 Definitions
    The Foundations
    4.2.1 Biological processes
    4.2.2 Organisms: Bacteria and fungi
    4.2.3 Enzymes
    4.2.4 Effects of different chemical structures
    4.2.5 Methods of measuring biodegradation
    4.3 Why the definitions and measurements matter.

    5: Biodegradation and Recycling: The Analytical Chemistry
    5.1.1 Recycling
    5.1.1a Chemical and physical breakdown
    5.1.1b Purity matters: How analytical chemistry helps reformulate plastics
    5.1.2 Biodegradation
    5.1.2a Challenges of monitoring complex systems
    The Foundations
    5.2.1 Current state of the art
    5.2.2 Industry and commercially accepted methods
    5.2.3 Methods in research
    5.2.4 Limitations of current methods
    5.3 The future of biodegradation analysis: A multifaceted approach to measuring

    6: TEAs and LCAs of Bio-Based Polyurethanes
    6.1.1 What is a TEA?
    6.1.2What is an LCA?
    The Foundation
    6.2.1 TEAs and LCAs: The right way to determine the total impacts of materials
    6.2.2 Comparing bio-based biodegradable polyurethane to typical petroleum Polyurethanes
    6.3 The importance of this approach: economic and environmental

    Section C – Reformulating Polyester Polyurethanes

    7: Polyurethanes: Foam and TPUs
    7.1.1 Chemistry of polyurethanes
    7.1.2 Types of polyurethane systems: Polyester vs polyether
    The Foundation
    7.2.1 Polyurethane foams and their applications
    7.2.1a Structure-property relationships in polyurethane foams
    7.2.1b Algae polyurethane foams: State of the art
    7.2.2 Thermoplastic urethanes (TPUs) and their applications
    7.2.3 TPU elastomers
    7.2.4 Expanded TPU (E-TPU)
    7.1 Algae TPU: Future possibilities

    8: Coatings, Adhesives, and Sealants
    8.1 History of coatings and adhesives from renewable resources
    The Foundation
    8.2.1 Algae and vegetable oils as raw materials for coatings and adhesives
    8.2.2 Algae-based urethane coatings and adhesives
    8.2.3 Cost-performance dilemma
    8.3 Application outlook

    9: Bio-Based Composite Materials
    9.1.1 Composite materials and their applications
    9.1.2 Sustainability of composite materials
    9.1.3 Biocomposites (natural fiber composites)
    The Foundation
    9.2.1 State of the art
    9.2.2 Applications of bio composites and structural bio composites
    9.2.3 Choice and sourcing of fillers
    9.2.4 Bio-based matrix
    9.3.1 Current limitations
    6,.3.2 Future perspectives and potential of bio composites

    Section D - Reimagining Polyester Polyurethanes

    10: Recycling – The Bioloop
    10.1 The Bioloop vision
    The Process
    10.2 Creation, Characterization, and Formulation of a renewable of materials from renewable sustainable sources
    10.3 Depolymerization by Chemical Degradation
    10.4 Depolymerization by Enzymatic Degradation
    10.5 Monomer Recovery
    10.6 Making a completely new polyester polyurethane material
    The Future
    10.7 Practical First Steps

    11: Commercialization and the Eco-Consumer
    11.1 Industries that are interested in green materials
    The Current Marketplace
    11.2.1 Size of the market now
    11.2.2 Why is greenwashing more than just fraud?
    The Future Marketplace
    11.3.1 Size of the market if bio-based biodegradable foams are available
    11.3.2 The green premium: Myth or reality

    12: The Future of Biodegradable Polyurethanes
    12.1 Where have we been and where are we going
    Future Research
    12.2.1 Advances in genetic engineering of algae and cyanobacteria
    12.2.2 Can we make algae into chemical factories?
    12.2.3 Advances in metabolic engineering of algae and cyanobacteria
    12.3.4 Can we customize and create novel biomolecules?
    Realistic Expectations for Future Product Development and Manufacturing

Product details

  • No. of pages: 318
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2023
  • Published: April 17, 2023
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323999823

About the Series Volume Editor

Robert Pomeroy

Robert S. “Skip” Pomeroy is a Teaching Professor at UC San Diego. He is an analytical chemist and works in several research centers within the university (CAICE, CalCAB, FF21, and the Center for Renewable Materials) serving as an educational lead and chemical analyst. He obtained his BA in chemistry from UC San Diego, MS in Analytical Chemistry from Cal Poly Pomona, and Ph.D in analytical chemistry from the University of Arizona, and was a postdoctoral student in the Marine Physical Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Dr. Pomeroy also served as the R&D lead for Southern Grouts and Mortars for 10 years.

Affiliations and Expertise

Teaching Professor, UC San Diego, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, La Jolla, CA, USA

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