Date Approved

10-28-2015

Embargo Period

12-22-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. Chemical Engineering

Department

Chemical Engineering

College

Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering

First Advisor

Stanzione, Joseph

Second Advisor

Dahm, Kevin

Third Advisor

Sadler, Joshua

Subject(s)

Lignin; Vinyl ester resins; Polymers

Disciplines

Chemical Engineering

Abstract

Vinyl ester (VE) resins are utilized to produce polymer matrix composites for use in a wide range of applications due to possessing relatively high moduli, strengths, and glass transition temperatures while maintaining low weight and cost. VE resins often contain high concentrations of a petroleum-based reactive diluent (RD), such as styrene. Many of the commonly used RDs have been designated as hazardous air pollutants, potential carcinogens, and volatile organic compounds. Renewable VE resins and RDs with similar performance to petroleum-based RDs are desired to potentially mitigate the aforementioned hazards as well as to facilitate the transition from petrochemical feedstocks to bio-based feedstocks. Lignin, which is an abundant renewable resource with a high aromatic content, has the potential to replace petrochemical feedstocks for VE resins and RDs. Lignin is produced in excess of 50 million tons annually as low value fuel for energy recovery, yet has the potential to produce high value chemicals and polymer precursors. In this work, a review of the literature was conducted in order to create multiple lignin-derived bio-oil mimics that were functionalized and subsequently polymerized to make high performance thermosetting plastics. In addition, lignin-derived compounds were investigated for use as RDs in a VE resin system to potentially reduce or eliminate the need for petrol derived RDs. The thermo-mechanical properties of all plastics were investigated via dynamic mechanical analysis and various structure property relationships are proposed.

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