The aim of this research is to make bio-based BPA analogs from lignin derived phenolic products. One phenolic product, isoeugenol, can be dimerized into BPA analogs while maintaining an internal double bond. That double bond can be hydrogenated to increase solubility and flexibility, functionalized with chemical motifs, or cleaved to break down polymer networks made with it. This BPA analog can be used with other bio-based monomers, like furan 2,5-dicarboxylic acid and succinic acid, to synthesize fully bio-based polymers. By varying the ratios of the isoeugenol dimer and the hydrogenated isoeugenol dimer with both furanic and aliphatic co-monomers, the thermal and mechanical properties of the resulting polymer networks can be tuned and compared to each other as well as the industrial used BPA based networks. Testing of properties will be done via thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA).
2017 Mellichamp Sustainability Fellow Research: The increasing urgency to replace petroleum based products (like bisphenol-A) in polymer networks is the driving force behind this research. The goal is to used lignin-derived phenolic products and well as sugar-derived furan based molecules to synthesize bio-based polymer networks with comparable mechanical and thermal properties to those of BPA-based networks. The phenols from lignin can be dimerized via olefin metathesis to create a BPA-like structure and polymerized with furan-based molecules. Additionally, these phenolic dimers consist of an internal double bond that could be functionalized to tune polymer properties, as well as potentially introduce a method for recyclability of these polymer networks through it's cleavage.