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Novel Catalyst For Producing Soy Polyols

Hydroxyl soybean oils, also called soy polyols, are biobased chemicals designed to replace petroleum-based polyols which are most commonly used in the production of polyurethanes. Although biobased feedstocks are used in the production of soy polyols, current production methods do not emphasize “green” chemistry as most require high temperatures and heavy acids to activate the epoxide ring. Additionally, current processes require multiple steps for acid removal and solvent purification. Considering this, researchers have become increasingly interested in identifying and utilizing heterogeneous solid acid catalyst to replace the traditional and less environmentally sound non-recyclable homogeneous acid-catalyst currently used in industrial processes. Although there are currently several heterogeneous catalysts such as SAC 13 and Amberlite 15 being sold in the market, such products have been shown to suffer from low production yield and high energy consumption. With the above issues in mind, researchers at Kansas State University have developed a new heterogeneous catalyst process for producing soy polyols that utilizes novel recyclable sulfamic acid-functionalized iron (iron/iron oxide core/shell) nanoparticles. This novel catalyst provides for a reaction that consumes less energy while producing higher yields than currently available solid catalysts. Life cycle assessment also shows that the K-State catalyst technology is superior or equal to the competing processes for producing soy polyol with respect to nine environmental impacts.

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Kansas State University

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