Florham Park, New Jersey — A proposal for bio-based degradable polyurethane foams was the winning entry by students at the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department of the University of Minnesota in a BASF Science Competition.
The students presented a new technology based around a sugar based mevalonate (MVL) monomer and its polyesterol (PMVL) made by solvent-free polymerization.
“This novel idea, presented by the students from the University of Minnesota, clearly illustrated how this new technology could potentially replace traditional petroleum based polyols,” said Elvira Stesikova, BASF project manager.
BASF said that PMVLs are similar to traditional polyols becasuse their properties which can be tuned by varying molecular weight and functionality. However, unlike today’s polyols, PMVL polyesterols offer a solvent-free process, utilize a sustainable raw material source, and present improved biodegradability and recyclability, said BASF. The company adds that “in the long term, this technology is viewed as a step towards isocyanate-free polyurethanes.”
The goal for the competition was to solve the following challenge: What chemistries can be used to create lightweight solutions with improved end of life management?
Four teams of students presented proposals that were judged by a panel of BASF executives and the proposed ideas will be shared within BASF for possible further development. The other finalist teams came from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Connecticut.
All four presenting teams received $5,000 and the winning team members won an all-expense-paid trip to a BASF Summer Course to be held in Ludwigshafen, Germany in August.
Photo caption: Standing with their BASF coach and judges, are (from left): Debbie Schneiderman, Marie Vanderlaan, Alex Mannion and Tessie Panthani.