Bio-based polymers for green materials

Luc Avérous’ team at ICPEES (Chemistry and Procedures for Energy, Environment and Health Institute) is working closely with Soprema and PSA to develop new bio-based polymers.

Over the past few years, renewable resources have sparked keen interest in the chemistry field and possible applications for polymers. We are seeing a boom in so-called ‘green’ polymer materials that do not harm the environment. Isocyanates are base elements in the synthesis of polyurethanes. Unfortunately they are toxic – some are even carcinogenic – and prolonged exposure can cause severe, irreparable breathing problems.
Luc Avérous’ research laboratory at the ICPEES (CNRS/University of Strasbourg) is engaged in a very fruitful partnership with two international companies: Soprema, the world’s leading building waterproofing company, and PSA (Peugoet-Citroen-France). This project run by the Alsace region and the Strasbourg Eurométropôle has enabled these three organisations to join forces to develop a new generation of polyurethane materials. Thanks to this project, Soprema wants to reduce its dependence on petrochemicals by 65%.
Very soon, new polyurethanes made from different types of biomass and with no isocyanate will be manufactured thanks to this collaboration, replacing standard polyurethanes made from non-renewable fossil fuels. The automotive and construction industries are very interested in their improved properties and excellent longevity. They could be used to develop sustainable waterproof membranes or roof insulation.
The aim of this study is to focus on the esterification of the lignin with a chlorinated fatty acid in a two-step system with no solvents and no catalyst to develop a new polyol. This new polymer with a controlled architecture features advanced properties. Polyurethanes are one of the most important polymeric materials. They can vary from thermoplastic or thermosetting materials, and have numerous uses such as flexible foam, thermoplastic elastomers, stickers and coatings.


Original polyols based on organosolv lignin and fatty acids: new bio-based building blocks for segmented polyurethanes synthesi. Laurichesse S., Huillet C., Avérous L.

Green Chemistry 19 juin 2014DOI: 10.1039/C4GC00596A

Scientific advances in line with current challenges