Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry

Topic details

Topic Biodegradation of bio-based polyurethanes prepared via non-isocyanate route
Supervisor Hynek Beneš, PhD.
Department Polymer Processing
Description The fate of plastic waste and a sustainable use of synthetic polymers is one of the major environmental challenges of the 21st century. Polyurethanes (PU)s are the fifth most demanded synthetic polymers in Europe, mainly due to their high versatility enabling production of flexible, semi-rigid and rigid foams, elastomers, sealants and coatings in many industrial applications. Besides chemical recycling of PUs, their biological (enzymatic) degradation is considered as a promising approach how to solve the worldwide plastic pollution. The PU biodegradation first involves the attack by extracellular enzymes overcoming the macromolecular structure of PUs and providing monomers and oligomers, which are during the second step mineralized inside the cell. The willingness to biodegrade primarily depends on the chemical composition and structure of PU materials. The versatility of PU chemistry makes possible to prepare PU materials which, in accordance with the current trend, are designed with degradation-on-demand features. This approach can also be applied for NIPU materials (non-isocyanate PUs), which are currently highly investigated due to their environmental-friendly preparation avoid the use of toxic isocyanates. In addition, the NIPU structure can be easily adapted for accelerated biodegradation, e.g. by introduction of more polar (typically hydroxyl) groups. Another eco-friendly feature of NIPUs is their design as entirely bio-based materials, i.e. uniquely renewable raw materials / monomers are used for NIPU synthesis. The aim of this work is to prepare novel NIPU materials with different chemical composition and supramolecular structure and to study their biodegradation with the aim of understanding the relationship between the rate of biodegradation and the NIPU structure. This PhD topic is multidisciplinary focused and the experimental work (including synthesis of new types of NIPU materials, their characterization and evaluation of biodegradation behavior) will take place in cooperation of two laboratories at Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry, Czech academy of Science and Faculty of Food and Biochemical Technology, University of Chemical Technology. The PhD candidates should have good communication skills in English (both in speaking and writing), should be able to work both in a team and independently. Active participation on foreign internships, trainings and scientific conferences is expected.