COCHIN, India—Researchers from Cochin University of Science and Technology have developed a bio-based polyol for polyurethane from rubber seed oil.
"Polyols are derived from petroleum-based source but, once petroleum is used up, there is going to be acute shortage of feedstocks," according to research leader Reghunadhan Nair, an emeritus scientist in the university's department of polymer science and rubber technology. "This is why we looked for alternate, green and sustainable sources."
Nair's team has developed a way to convert rubber seed oil into polyols by reacting double bonds in the rubber seed oil with a dilute oxidant. The reaction happens at low temperatures and generates hydroxylated rubber seed oil. This single-step process yields polyols that contain between two and 14 hydroxyl groups.
The process is patented, with the IP documentation foreseeing applications for the polyols in rigid, insulation applications.
"As it replaces the petroleum-derived polyol in the future, we can look at the rubber trees for polyols," Nair added.
Cochin is located in the Indian state of Kerala. Nair said that if the polyol takes off, it could help strengthen the state's agricultural sector.