Polyesters from Rapeseed Oil

by | Sep 5, 2012

Researchers in Karlsruhe used plant oils to synthesize renewable long-chain aliphatic polyesters using olefin self-metathesis for the monomer synthesis.

The interest in monomers and polymers derived from renewable resources is increasing steadily due in part to the general awareness of the need for improved sustainability in all aspects of our daily life. Among the numerous renewable resources available, plant oils occupy a leading position, as evidenced by their widespread use in the chemical industry.

Michael A. R. Meier and co-workers (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, KIT) have now explored plant oils and their derivatives as building blocks for the synthesis of 100% renewable aliphatic long-chain polyesters. For this purpose, erucic acid, a monounsaturated ω-9 fatty acid readily available from rapeseed oil, was efficiently self-metathesized (and hydrogenated) to yield a linear saturated long-chain α,ω-dicarboxylic acid. The subsequent direct polycondensation of stoichiometric amounts of this C26 diacid with its corresponding C26 diol (obtained from the diacid via reduction), proved to be a straightforward method to prepare aliphatic long-chain polyesters that are 100% renewable. Their properties were investigated by means of various techniques, revealing high crystallinity, melting and degradation temperatures.

The possible biodegradability of the polyesters together with their renewable origin make them attractive candidates to be used as replacement for materials based on fossil resources.