Researchers look at soy oil to replace petroleum for a range of products

03/23/04

(Blacksburg, Va., April 1, 2004) -- Virginia Tech researchers are mixing air and soybean oil to create new polymers to replace petroleum-based materials.

"These natural polymers could be used in biocompatible or biodegradable ways," says Tim Long of Blacksburg, chemistry professor in the College of Science at Virginia Tech. "We are looking for natural products derived in the United States."

Ann R. Fornof of Toledo, Ohio, a graduate student in Virginia Tech's Macromolecular and Science Engineering program, will present the research at the 227th annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif., March 28 through April 1, 2004.

"We bubble air and a catalyst through the oil to generate reactive compounds called polyols, which are suitable for polymerization," Long explains. "Polyols are used in polyurethanes, such as elastomers, foams, and biomedical applications."

Fornof"s and Long's work represents a collaboration between chemistry and chemical engineering. The research is supported by the U.S. Soybean Board.

Fornof earned her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Columbia University, after graduating from Notre Dame Academy (high school) in Toledo.

Fornof will present the paper on "Synthesis and characterization of polyols via air oxidation of triglycerides (PMSE 444)," co-authored by Long, at 8:50 a.m. Thursday, April 1, in the Palm East room of the Anaheim Coast Hotel as part of the symposium on New Concepts in Polymeric Materials.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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