Redesigning Petroleum-Based Plastics with Renewable Feedstocks

Saturday, February 16, 2013
Room 201 (Hynes Convention Center)
Stephen A. Miller , University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Worldwide efforts have increased greatly to identify polymeric building blocks that are not derived from fossil fuels and to employ these monomers to create polymers that readily degrade in natural environments. We have developed novel methods for synthesizing linear thermoplastic polymers from a variety of biogenic feedstocks, including sugars, triglycerides, lignin, and C1 feedstocks that can be obtained from trees. To this end we will report on new marine-degradable polyacetals and polyesteracetals that will biodegrade, but also exhibit steady abiotic degradation in aqueous environments such as distilled water or seawater. New aromatic polyesters derived from lignin-based feedstocks (e.g., vanillin and ferulic acid) will be described. Also, new synthetic strategies have allowed the preparation of aliphatic polyesters directly from renewable C1 feedstocks (biomethanol), without the necessity of sugars or fermentation. These thermoplastics will be discussed in the context of replacing specific petroleum-based plastics.