What is it about?

This scientific publication describes two types of polyols, their properties, and the importance of understanding their differences for developing sustainable building blocks for polyurethane materials. In specific, the study concerns the differences in the properties of two types of polyols namely polyether polyols and polyether carbonate polyols. Polyols are widely used in the manufacture of polyurethane, a type of plastic material. The researchers carried out detailed studies on the two types of chemicals to understand why they have different properties. The study describes how it was found that polyether carbonate polyols have stronger topological constraints, which means they form temporarily fixed networks on the same time scale, leading to time-dependent diffusion coefficients. This results in a distinctive phenomenon, which is similar to sub-diffusion in porous media. Understanding these differences in properties is important because it can help to develop sustainable CO2-derived building blocks for well-defined polyurethane materials. I find the study on the properties of CO2-derived polyethercarbonate polyols very intriguing. The findings suggest that the incorporation of carbonate groups in polyether polyols leads to stronger intermolecular interactions and rigidity, which ultimately results in higher viscosity. This information has significant implications for the processing of these more sustainable building blocks for polyurethane materials. Excellent understanding of the physicochemical properties of polyether carbonate polyols is required to design sustainable and well-defined polyurethane materials that have a reduced environmental impact.

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Why is it important?

The work described in this scientific publication is important because it provides a better understanding of the properties of CO2-derived polyethercarbonate polyols, which are an emerging more sustainable raw material for the manufacture of polyurethane materials. Specifically, the study compares the physicochemical properties of polyether polyols and polyether carbonate polyols and how these result from the respective chemical features of the polyols. Understanding these differences is crucial for developing new sustainable building blocks for polyurethane materials. The researchers suggest that CO2-derived polyether carbonate polyols could serve as such building blocks. Though, in order to make this a reality, it is necessary to understand the fundamental differences in the properties of these chemicals compared to more conventional polyether polyols. By gaining a better understanding of these differences, it becomes possible to design more sustainable and well-defined polyurethane materials, which could have important implications for a wide range of industries, from construction to transportation to consumer products. In addition, developing more sustainable building blocks for polyurethane manufacture could help reduce the environmental impact of this widely used material.


From a personal perspective, I find this research particularly relevant as I am interested in environmental sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of chemical industry and the energy sector. It is exciting to see that researchers are exploring new, more sustainable alternatives to widely used materials like polyurethane. By using CO2-derived polyether carbonate polyols as building blocks, it is possible to reduce the environmental impact of the production of polyurethane. Additionally, the knowledge gained from this study could be applied to other fields, such as the development of elastomers and soft-touch coatings, further expanding the potential applications of these sustainable building blocks. Overall, I believe this research is an essential step in developing more environmentally friendly materials for various applications.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Ernst Müller
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Dynamics of Polyether Polyols and Polyether Carbonate Polyols, Macromolecules, November 2016, American Chemical Society (ACS), DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.6b01601.
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