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Synthesis, Analysis, and Applications of Renewable Polyols


Renewable polymers have been of increasing interest as replacements for petroleum based products. Here, an efficient, one-pot method of synthesizing renewable, sustainable, and biodegradable polyols from algae oil was developed, demonstrating that Prilezhaev epoxidation with acetic acid and ring-opening with short-chain carboxylic acids can be performed in a single step. Renewable polyols from MCPU Engineering were utilized to create a rigid polyurethane foam surfboard with a weight-by-weight percent renewability of 11%. Though this foam did not have the same density or hardness of a benchmark board, the cause of this was determined to be due to additive and processing differences rather than inferior polyols. Tests manipulating the additives and foam pouring process are currently underway. A method of measuring polyol hydroxyl number to within 5% using Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy was also developed, which presented a faster, less expensive, and more environmentally-conscious alternative to current methods.

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