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Keynote Address

Improving the Sustainability of Thermosets using Renewables
Dr. Dean C. Webster
Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials
North Dakota State University

As an approach to improved sustainability, interest in the use of “green” or renewable chemicals in the synthesis of materials such as polymers and thermosets continues to grow at a rapid pace. One major source of renewable chemicals is agricultural products and significant research efforts are now being expended to identify methods for transforming biomass into useful chemical building blocks. Several monomers derived from cellulose, such as succinic acid, levulinic acid, isosorbide, and furandicarboxylic acid are being commercialized. The reaction of isosorbide with epichlorohydrin leads to an epoxy that can be crosslinked with amines similar to conventional epoxy resins. While seed oils and their functionalized derivatives have been used for decades in a number of applications, new research has resulted in the identification of additional ways to exploit the use of oils in polymers. For example, our own research into functionalized derivatives of sucrose esters of vegetable oil fatty acids has shown that thermosets having properties comparable to existing systems can be prepared. These types of resins have a high degree of reactive functionality, which results in a high crosslink density. In addition, the rigid structure of the sucrose moiety also contributes to the properties obtained from these systems. Further advances continue to be made in technologies leading to thermosets having a high content of renewable content.


Dean Webster is Professor and Chair in the Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials at North Dakota State University. He received a B.S. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering Science both from Virginia Tech.  Prior to joining NDSU in 2001 he worked for Sherwin-Williams at their Central Research Laboratories in Chicago and at Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee.  He is the editor-in-chief of Progress in Organic Coatings and recipient of the 2011 Roy W. Tess Award in Coatings Science given by the American Chemical Society and the 2013 Joesph Mattiello Lecture award given by the American Coatings Association.