Every year millions of tonnes of plastics and are produced. Of the annual production, about 10% is recycled, 15% is burned and the remaining 75% is disposed to landfills or leaks into the environment. Simultaneously as the demand of plastic materials is increasing, there is a paradigm shift towards more sustainable materials. The design and development of sustainable polymers, the backbone of plastics, is therefore crucial.
Major strategies include using biomass as a source of green carbon, designing polymers towards degradability and enabling chemical recycling. Depending on the source of carbon and the ability to degrade, polymers used for plastics are classified as petrobased or biobased and degrabable or non-degradable.
Despite the industrial production of biobased and biodegradable polymers, there are challenges yet to overcome. Often the synthesis of bio monomers demands elaborate procedures and the produced materials usually suffer from brittleness and poor thermal properties. Furthermore, the process for upscaling, implementing and life cycle analyses of novel plastic materials is an elaborate and costly procedure for the chemical industry.
By mimicking the chemical structure of commercially available materials with the use of bio sourced starting materials, sustainable alternative materials can be produced at a higher rate. Polyester composites are commercially available plastic materials reinforced by i.e. glass fibers to improve mechanical performance. The polymer resin in most of these materials, are made from petro sourced building blocks. The building blocks for the commercially available polymer resins may be exchanged with bio sourced compounds.
This project is based on the chemical structure of the polymer resin in commercially available polyester composites. Systematically chemical modification of the polymer structure, by changing the building blocks, results in materials with somewhat altered properties despite the chemical mimicking of the already available polymer resins. By analysing the chemical structure and mechanical and thermal properties, the overall goal is to obtain an understanding of the structure-property-relationship in the biobased versions of commercially available polymer resins and compare their performance.