Non-Isocyanate Polyurethanes

Polyurethanes are among the most versatile plastic materials and are virtually ubiquitous. They are found in products such as the foams of mattresses and couches, in building insulation and in coatings and paints, to name just a few. Conventionally, polyurethanes are produced in a reaction relying on isocyanate molecules and polyols. However, growing evidence supports the potential health hazards of occupational exposure to isocyanates, and polyols are primarily derived from fossil fuels, although more and more renewable polyols reach the marked. The global vision of NIPU-EJD is to support innovation and entrepreneurship on the development of more sustainable, less hazardous Polyurethane systems that are produced without isocyanates from bio- and CO2-sourced monomers as high-performance and greenest alternatives to conventional Polyurethanes in highly demanded and emerging applications, such as rigid and flexible foams, coatings, elastomers, adhesives, vitrimers and 3D-printing.

NIPU-EJD will focus its research training programme on the emergence of highly skilled researchers having the necessary combination of scientific knowledge, technical and entrepreneurial skills to tackle two-pronged scientific challenge by the development of sustainable and safe non-isocyanate polyurethane (NIPU) systems. For this purpose, our highly application-oriented research training programme merges the great potential of innovative NIPU chemistry and materials with the principles of green chemistry. Herein, we envision an effective response to economic, ecologic and societal-driven challenges, while exploiting local and renewable feedstocks available such as fatty acids and developing green processes and applications with reduced carbon footprint that Europe must urgently address in the next decade. The global environmental impact of the NIPU systems and their end-life scenario will be also assessed with LCA modelling.

Our NIPU-EJD programme is investing in the sustainability of applied polymer chemistry and materials in exceptionally strategic and cutting-edge technologies. In Horizon 2020, the EC has recognized Sustainable Chemistry as an urgent Societal Challenge with implications across areas such as climate change, energy transition, high performance materials, bio-economy, health, and transport. As key Horizon 2020 objectives, sustainable development is relevant to all areas of the programme. In the recent communication on the European Green Deal, the EC committed to the adoption of a new Circular Economy Action plan, to accelerate and continue the transition towards a circular economy.

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