TOWARDS A BETTER STEEL REPLACEMENT: BIOMASS ENABLED PERFORMANCE ADVANTAGES FOR THERMOSET APPLICATIONS
The inherent and extended functionality of biomass derived molecules makes them ideal to be used in polymer applications to enable performance advantaged behavior. Generally, performance advantaged behavior can manifest as better manufacturing (e.g. lower toxicities, less GHG emissions produced, etc.), enhanced lifetime performance, or greater end of life options. In our current work, we have applied different bio-derivable monomers to different thermoset systems. Benefits in manufacturing either manifest through lower GHG emissions for amine-based building blocks, enabled by the use of biological cultivations, or in faster cure times enabled by unique bi-functional monomers. When recyclable-by-design monomers are implemented alongside carbon fiber not only do they offer enhanced performance over epoxy-amine resins, but they enable the carbon fiber to be used multiple times. Formulation of these recyclable-by-design resins can enable enhanced ductility trending their properties towards steel. Further analysis reveals vast decarbonization potential when the carbon fiber can be used over multiple lives. Finally, accompanying technoeconomic analysis reveals that thermoset applications are competitive with thermoset prices, indicating an ideal market for bio-derived polymer implementation.
Dr. Nicholas (Nic) Rorrer (He/Him) is a Senior Researcher in the Renewable Resources and Enabling Sciences Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) studying polymer engineering and biomaterials development. Nic received his undergraduate education at Virginia Tech in Chemical Engineering and completed his Masters and PhD at the Colorado School of Mines under the tutelage of John Dorgan. Following his education, Nic pursued a postdoctoral research opportunity at NREL where he received mentorship from Gregg Beckham. Nic’s research interests are primarily in Performance Advantaged Bioproducts, or how we can use the inherent functionality afforded to biomass derived precursors to enable benefits in manufacturing, performance, and end-of-life. Nic is a member of the BOTTLE consortium and PIs multiple projects across multiple Department of Energy offices. In addition to his research, Nic leads NREL’s polymer synthesis and analysis capabilities while expanding NREL’s expertise and interest in polymer processing.