The project proposal enclose many science and technological challenges in the area of bio-based polyols and various PUR materials. The derivatives of vegetable oils can be potential replacements for petrochemical polyols in the synthesis of PURs and they exhibit capacity to biological degradation. Moreover, life cycle assessment (LCA) of vegetable oil-based polyols shows clear environmental benefits of applying them in PUR materials. Compared to petrochemical-based polyols, the vegetable polyols would use 33% to 64% of the fossil resources and could generate very low greenhouse gas emissions.

Vegetable oils are triglycerides of predominantly unsaturated fatty acids. They are chemically relatively uncreative and must be transformed into the compounds contained at least two hydroxyl groups capable of forming PURs in reaction with diisocyanates. In this work, rapeseed and palm oil-based polyols will be synthesized by epoxidation of the oil, followed by oxirane ring-opening. This method is well known, however the basic challenge is elimination of the solvent keeping high epoxidation yield. Another challenge of this work is to obtain polyols of lower hydroxyl values, desired for flexible foam and elastomer formulations. Polyols applied in flexible foams should also have higher molecular weights to decrease cross-linking density and to improve elasticity. The content of hydroxyl groups in polyols can be desired by choosing appropriate conditions of the epoxidation reaction. Oligomerization and aapplication of different alcohols as opening agents and chain extenders makes possible to influence on the content of soft segments in PUR foams. Moreover, it is likely that the use of special nucleophile agents and carrying out the reaction under microwave irradiation would eliminate the need for the catalyst and simultaneously would maintain short reaction time and low energy consumption.

The next challenge in the planned works is increasing the content of bio-based polyols in the polyurethane foams and elastomers. It is necessary to develop a composition and processing parameters of manufacturing various groups of polyurethane materials with the use of polyols from renewable raw materials. The final challenge is the analysis of relationship between chemical constitution, parameters of manufacturing process and the structure and properties, especially functional properties of various groups of polyurethane materials produced using bio-polyols. Knowledge of such relations will enable the selection of a substrate type and the parameters of PUR manufacturing to fabricate products for given applications. On this basis a composition will be proposed for manufacturing prototype products from polyurethane as rigid, flexible, viscoelastic foams and elastomers. The properties of BBPM (bio-based polyurethane materials) prototype products will be verified in the final phase of the project.
In order to fabricate different forms of BBPM such as: rigid, flexible and viscoelastic foams and elastomers we propose to develop polyols manufactured within the execution of the project as well as commercially available polyols, including those made from soy. New groups of polyols may also need modification additives, which will be chosen according to the requirements of given applications of the considered PURs.

The expected result of the project will be the development of knowledge on a possibility of utilizing polyols from renewable raw materials to produce BPM intended for obtaining various groups of foams and elastomers for technical usage, especially those verified within the framework of the project. The results obtained within the framework of the project will constitute a basis for works aimed at the implementation of substrates from renewable raw materials in the production of PURs.