Converting non-edible biomass into renewable, recyclable thermosets
For all their mechanical and physical property advantages, conventional thermoset polymers have a downside when it comes to sustainability. With few exceptions, they are not based on renewable, non-petroleum feedstocks. And the cross-linked bonds that define the performance of conventional thermosets also prevent them from being recycled. SperoSet™, a patent-pending thermoset technology, solves both problems.
SperoSet produces fully recyclable thermoset polymers that can be based on our SPERLU™ renewable biophenols or conventional petroleum-based feedstocks. The resulting polymers have thermomechanical properties and costs similar to conventional bisphenol A (BPA) epoxies.
SperoSet's recyclability is rooted in the introduction of chemically reversible bonds as intermolecular linkages in the polymer's cross-linked networks. These reversible bonds can undergo breakage and reformation reactions, making SperoSet:
- Degradable in organic or aqueous solutions under mild conditions.
- Recyclable from that solution with their original thermal and mechanical properties.
- Repairable and weldable through chemical bond exchange reactions.
This reversible bond approach avoids some of the complications of earlier recyclable chemistries, which required additional ingredients such as metal catalysts or extra monomers.
Multiple Feedstock Routes
While SperoSet can make use of petroleum-based feedstocks, the peak of sustainability is reached through the use of biophenols produced via our patented SPERLU technology, which uses lignin-derived precursors.
SperoSet is designed for the manufacture of high-tech plastics produced from fiber reinforced polymers (FRPs), which have multiple applications in the automotive, aerospace, sporting goods, renewable energy and other industries.
In particular, the easy recyclability of SperoSet materials makes them a natural fit for carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). SperoSet enables zero-waste manufacturing of these composites and end-of-life recycling of the expensive carbon fiber components, reducing cost and environmental impacts.
Compared to conventional epoxy thermoset materials made with petroleum feedstocks, SperoSet has a small carbon footprint, while still affording all the performance advantages epoxies offer.