POLYMER PHASES INC
SUSTAINABLE POLYESTERS FOR FOAMS:
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop new sustainable, biodegradable polyester materials that will replace many currently-used petrochemical polymer plastics. Polymer Phases, Inc. (PPI) has developed biodegradable materials based on byproducts of bio-fuels. These materials can be somewhat water sensitive and sticky, not unlike many natural polymers. We have found, with modification in the synthetic process, polymers can be dry at room temperature and resistance and toughness properties improved through application processing. The purpose of this proposal is to study the effect of adding materials to these sustainable, biodegradable materials, varying the synthetic process, and changing the composition to see if the polymers will exhibit the performance to replace currently-used petrochemical-based plastics for a broader group of applications beyond adhesives. Polymer Phases, Inc. is seeking a family of polymers that can be extruded into pellets. These pellets need to be dry enough to flow like a powder. For this project's target, the customer would use the pellets to make foam sheets which could be formed into disposable food containers. During this project, PPI will form the foam sheets and compare the performance with polystyrene foam sheets.
Petrochemical plastics, which are synthesized from finite supplies of petroleum resources, do not degrade in the environment and therefore contribute to the global accumulation of waste. In addition synthetic polymers are also associated with a number of documented health risks, including cancer, inflammation, and reproductive and endocrine disorders. There is a critical need for alternatives to current synthetic petrochemical polymers. Polymer Phases' unique materials will replace many conventional petrochemical-based polymers, which are derived from non-renewable sources, and which rely heavily on expensive and potentially toxic cross-linkers. PPI's products have potential applications ranging from disposable, biodegradable foams, insulation, bottles, plastic wares, packaging, coatings, plasticizers, film, and biomedical devices. The monomers utilized in PPI's unique synthesis method are non-toxic, renewable materials, and their resulting polyester pre-polymer products are easily biodegraded. Beyond the environmental and health benefits, PPI believes their unique production methods can be developed to yield polymers that are cost-competitive to petroleum raw material polymer products, with mechanical and performance attributes equal to or better than, bio-based or renewable polymers. Activities within this project will be integrated into existing educational programs (such as the Co-op internship) at Drexel University.