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Polyurethane from Trees

posted Nov 1, 2020, 11:01 PM by Rishi Madan
                                   Made from oil extracted from bark and mixed with CO2, this cyclic carbonate is 
                                   a precursor for polyurethane, a common form of plastic with a wide range of 
                                   everyday uses

The University of Toronto’s Ning Yan and her team showed that tree bark can be used to create an isocyanate-free version of polyurethane. The bark is liquefied into an oil, which is then mixed with CO2 to create a product known as cyclic carbonate, a precursor for polyurethane. The cyclic carbonate product contains 15 per cent CO2 by weight, providing a new path to sequestering the greenhouse gas.

Yan is the director of the newly formed Low Carbon Renewable Materials Centre (LCRMC) at U of T Engineering, which is supported by the dean’s strategic fund. LCRMC researchers work closely with forestry companies and industry associations to transform forest biomass – including materials that today are discarded as waste – into commercially valuable products.

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