SBIR Phase I: Polyols Derived from Proteins Biomass for Rigid Polyurethane Foams

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Troy Polymers, Inc.
330 E. Maple Road, Suite L
Troy, MI 48083
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is proposing to produce polyols from soymeal for use in the manufacturing of rigid polyurethanes foams. The proposed process follows the ?Green Chemistry? guidelines and consists of hydrolyzing the protein to amino acids and converting them to hydroxyl terminated monomers. Polymerization of these polyols will yield poly(amide-urethane)s, which can be used as foams, coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers. However, the focus of this proposal will be on introducing this technology to the rigid polyurethane foams market. The structure and the presence of amide linkages in these polyols should provide better dimensional stability, higher rigidity and better chemical resistance foams then current polyurethane foams that contain esters or ethers linkages. Key elements of the current program will be to prepare and characterize the polyol monomers and then evaluate them in rigid polyurethanes foams. Model compounds derived from commonly available amino acids will also be used to optimize the process and characterize the products. The data will be used to articulate the scientific basis and develop appropriate process and products. Assessing potential commercial feasibility, preliminary economic evaluation, identifying potential market segments and customers who are interested in this technology will also be examined. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project provides an opportunity to produce a desirable bio-based alternative to environmentally un-friendly and increasingly expensive petroleum-based rigid polyurethane foams. Recently, much activity has been directed to utilize the oil from soybean to produce biodiesel, however, most of the leftover protein biomass is being used for poultry, swine and cattle feed or in aquaculture feed. Only a small portion of this biomass is refined for human consumption and even a smaller amount (only 0.5%) is currently being used for industrial applications (primarily in adhesives). The relatively low cost and stable supply of this valuable raw material makes the protein biomass an economically attractive source for value-added products such as its use in the production of polyurethanes. Furthermore, the proposed manufacturing process offers distinct advantages over the production of current polyols. It is anticipated that these polyols, and the foams derived from them, will benefit the growing ?green? market. The proposed technology is expected to reduce the US dependence on foreign oil imports and will provide alternative ?grown in America? valuable products. The results from this proposed project will be broadly disseminated to enhance the scientific and technological understanding in this field.