Study of the Mechanical, Thermal Properties and Flame Retardancy of Rigid Polyurethane Foams Prepared from Modified Castor-Oil-Based Polyols

A team of researchers from China conducted study on mechanical, thermal properties and flame retardancy of rigid polyurethane foams (PUF) prepared from modified castor oil (MCOHomepagecarroussel-research1) based polyols. The polyurethane foam was prepared in two stages. The first stage is the conversion of castor oil into glycerides by alcoholysis with glycerol and pentaerythritol. Next stage is the synthesis of polyester polyols by condensation alcoholysis of castor oil and phthalic anhydride. Results from various analyses showed that components of the MCOs and commercial polyester polyol PS-3152 are similar in their foaming behaviour. Results from analyses like mechanical testing, flame retardancy testing, thermogravimetric analysis and cone calorimetry showed that PUF from modified Castor oil based polyols had a better mechanical properties and thermal conductivities than PS-3152 based Polyurethanes. High thermal stability is exhibited by MCO based PUFs, during pyrolysis.

It is also found that addition of ammonium pyrophosphate decreased their heat release rate, total heat release and mass loss, thereby having synergistic effect with phthalic anhydride polyester polyols. All of these unique properties of MCO-modified rigid PUFs were correlated to the structures of these PUFs.

These findings may lead to the development of a new type of polyurethane foam using castor oil.

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Castor Oil-Sebacic Acid Polyanhydrides for Controlled Release of Drugs

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, have synthesised aie-2014-00679u_0007 family of high molecular weight castor oil based biodegradable polyanhydrides by a catalyst-free melt-condensation reaction between prepolymers of castor oil and sebacic acid. Sebacic acid is found to increase the crystallinity of the polymer. Water wettability and ductility decreased while strength of the polymer sharply increased with increase in SA content. Invitro hydrolytic degradation studies indicated surface-eroding behaviour. The degradation products also found to have minimal cytotoxic effects. Thus, a CO-SA polyanhydrides can be characterized for controlled release of drugs, by modulation of physical, mechanical and degradation kinetics.


Polyurethane–Organoclay Nanocomposites Based on Castor Oil Polyols

Researchers from University of Technology, Baghdad, have synthesized castor oil-based polyurethanes–organoclay (COPUs-Cloisite 30B) nanocomposites by mixing polypropylene glycol polyol and dehydrated castor oil (15 %), with C30B nanofillers at different weight percentages. Various analyses such as OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, Fourier scanning Electron Microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-ray diffraction were performed to evaluate the physico-chemical properties of COPUs-Cloisite 30B. Thermal stability and tensile strength were found to improve upto ~30 C and ~240% respectively, with 5 wt% of C30B . These improved properties allow it to be used in coatings, adhesives and automotives.


Read more about castoroil-based polyurethanes

SGB’s New Hybrid of Jatropha with Shorter Maturation Period

JatrophaSGB Inc, San Diego, has successfully developed a Jatropha hybrid, which has rapid time of maturity and high yielding capacity. The major barrier, concerned with Jatropha is its long time of maturation of about 5 years. The latest generation hybrids have been reduced to one to two years, which is remarkable.

SGB conducted pre-commercial trials with its top 10 hybrids, and the best performing hybrid being recognised, gave an equivalent of 300 gallons of oil per acre in year one, with a corresponding protein production of 0.6 metric tons which is 30% higher than that of yield from soy. The protein is of high quality and contains essential amino acids, comparable to soybean.

The underlying reason for early failures of Jatropha:
• Insufficient germplasm diversity that obstruct effective breeding and improvement of Jatropha,
• Lack of understanding and/ or implementation of the agronomic practices to unlock full potential of Jatropha

Finally, SGB is done with its necessary trials on this super breed, and is ready to commercialise. An investment of $40 million and 7 years of research has resulted in a viable alternative to soybean and palm as a sustainable source of oil and protein.

Polyols Based on Organosolv Lignin and Fatty Acids

Scientists from University of Strasbourg, France, published results of their recent research on Bio based building blocks for segmented Polyurethanes. A macropolyol was prepared by combining two different biomolecules- lignin and oleic acid, from biomass. NMR and FT-IR analyses are performed to determine the chemical structure of the lignic- fatty acid based polyol. Polyurethanes preolymers are synthesised from 4,4′-methylenebis(phenyl isocyanate) and poly(propylene)glycol of different molecular weights (PPG – 425, 1000 and 2000 g mol−1. ).

On varying the reaction parameters, in the presence of lignin- fattyacid based macropolyol, different PU macromolecular architectures were obtained. The chemical structure of the lignin- based polyurethane was analysed by FT-IR, and the properties of polymers by DSC, TGA, DMTA, and tensile test experiments. Thus obtained new polymers is found to posses advanced properties and may serve as an optimal alternative to conventional polyurethanes. Full Article

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Microorganisms for Bio-Based Nylon Intermediates

Genomatic, a U.S. Biotech company, bacteriahas planned to develop technologies for the production of bio-based nylon intermediates- hexamethylenediamine, caprolactam and adipic acid. Approximately, revenue of $18 billion is bagged by these three chemicals every year.

The company has been involved in a several experiments, to study the

production of nylon intermediates by various microorganisms. The research team of Genomatic is basically trying to demonstrate the metabolic pathways, efficient methods of production and recovery of these intermediates. Source

Castor oil based nylon has a relatively low density for a polyamide, good low temperature impact strength and good dimensional stability. Know more on the nylon intermediates from castor oil

Castor Prices Fall Owing to Good Sowing

Delayed monsoon and insufficient rainfall encouraged farmers to shift from other crops to castorseed. Therefore, good sowing in growing regions caused a sharp fall in the price, putting pressure at future trades.

At NCDEX, on 01 September, 2014, Castor prices were down as quoted in the table below.


Contract Fall

Final Price, in comparison with the previous contract



Rs 77 or


Rs 4,122



Rs 85 or


Rs 4,181



Rs 105 or

2.37 %

Rs 4,320


Marginal Recovery in Future Trading on 27 Aug, 2014

As speculators enlarged positions at existing lower levels amidst firming spot markets, a marginal recovery in the castor prices was observed on 27 August, 2014.

The table below shows the future trading prices on 27 August, 2014 at the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange.




Final price

Rs per quintal

First contract September

Rs 11 or 0.26 %


Second contracts October

Rs 12 or 0.28 %