Battelle scientists have invented a novel, water-based polyurethane unlike any other—environmentally responsible, cost-effective, soy-based and free of N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) solvent. This new polyurethane has less odor than its petroleum-based counterpart and can be used in a wide variety of coatings and adhesives.
Battelle’s unique product is environmentally superior on two levels:
It employs soy oil instead of petroleum to produce the polyol needed to make standard polyurethanes.
Water-based polyurethanes must have NMP added during the manufacturing process in order to lower viscosity. Battelle’s proprietary recipe eliminates the need for that expensive solvent, an important new breakthrough that reduces costs, handling, reporting regulations, vapors and pollution.
The polyurethane stems from research fostered in Battelle’s formal mentoring program. It was funded by Ohio soybean farmers through the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC). “Once again, our friends at Battelle have developed a remarkable new product that takes advantage of the versatility of soybean oil,” said Keith Roberts, OSC New Uses Committee Chair and soybean farmer from Marion County, Ohio. “Our investment in research to develop new products made from renewable, environmentally friendly soybeans benefits everyone, including Ohio and all U.S. soybean farmers.”
Both proof of principle and lab scale testing were established at Battelle and Senior Research Scientist Ram Lalgudi presented a paper on the subject at conferences earlier this year. Lalgudi mentored Researcher Phil Denen, a young scientist at Battelle who started the idea and worked on weekends and off-work hours to develop it. Battelle has intellectual property based on the product and has filed for a patent.
“Yes, this new product is important for the consumer because it’s environmentally friendly and does the same job at a comparable price as older polyurethanes without using volatile organic solvents such as NMP,” said Rick Heggs, Senior Marketing Manager at Battelle. “But for manufacturers, this represents a leap forward. Eliminating NMP makes life a lot easier.”
Applications for the new product include all kinds of paints, inks, top coatings, seal coatings, and also will be valuable in the peel-and-go market and a variety of adhesives. It meets Chemical Agent Resistant Coatings (CARC) standards, which means it will be usable by the military.
Battelle will seek licensing partners to scale up the product to mass manufacturing. The new polyurethane is the latest in an impressive line of inventions that have come from the relationship between Battelle and the OSC, including such soy-based products as printer ink/toner, plastics, de-icers, hydrogels and many others.