North Central Canola Research Program


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Canola-based Epoxy Resins for Bio-based Plastic Composites

Canola-based Epoxy Resins for Bio-based Plastic Composites
Dennis Wiesenborn, North Dakota State University - $24,150

Dwindling petroleum resources plus the need for products that can be produced and retired in more sustainable ways compels the US to develop bio-based alternatives for the full range of petroleum-based products. Canola oil has characteristics that make it very well suited to the development of resins for bio-based plastic composites, as well as other plastics. Plastic composites are created through the combined use of resins and fibers, resulting in materials with excellent mechanical properties. Plastic composites may be used for molded parts, especially in transportation, construction and marine applications.

A variety of natural resins can be produced from canola oil, such as epoxy, vinyl ester and unsaturated polyester types. Epoxy resins are of particular, current interest, because epoxy resins do not require the addition of volatile reactive diluents such as styrene, a material of special concern with EPA and OSHA; thus, epoxy resins are more desirable from an environmental and workplace safety standpoint. Increased restrictions on styrene emissions by the EPA make bio-based epoxies a very attractive alternative for manufacture of plastic composites. Also, epoxy resins have better structural properties and corrosion resistance compared to the other types.

1. Identify and optimize procedures for production of epoxy resins from canola oil and alcohol esters of canola oil, and characterize those epoxy resins.
2. Characterize resins and plastic composites produced from those resins, using standard industry techniques.
3. Analyze economic feasibility of and identify steps to transfer technology for canola-based resins.

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