Technology

Derived from phenolic acids found in plant sources, biorenewable epoxy resins, [patent pending] are naturally non-toxic. Researchers also found that these resins are capable of triggered degradation, meaning it will biodegrade in a landfill or in natural environments where waste may collect.

Because of the rigid structure of phenolic acids, materials derived from this source are stiff and heat-resistant, making them a competitive alternative to traditional materials.

Thermosets like epoxy resins have many applications. They could replace petroleum-based plastics used in common products, such as food and beverage containers or electronics; composites used in the energy (wind turbine blades), aerospace and automotive industries; and in both protective coatings and adhesives.

Science

The method of producing epoxy resins from plant-based phenolic acids is similar to that when using the traditional diglycidyl ether of bisphenol A (DGEBA).

In fact, two types of epoxidized phenolic acids have been explored for used in epoxy resins. Both types produced resins with stiffness and strength superior to their petroleum-based counterparts.

In addition, E4HBA-based epoxy resins exhibited elongation at break comparable to the DGEBA-based epoxy resin. Both types of phenolic acid-based resinsare degradable in basic water.

Inventor

Inventor Megan Robertson, Ph.D., is an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Houston. Her research group focuses on the structure, properties and functions of polymeric materials.

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