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Tunable Thermosetting Epoxies Based on Fractionated and Well-Characterized Lignins

Gioia, Claudio, Lo Re, Giada, Lawoko, Martin, Berglund, Lars
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018 v.140 no.11 pp. 4054-4061
crosslinking, differential scanning calorimetry, epoxides, ethylene oxide, fractionation, lignin, models, moieties, molecular weight, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, phosphorus, resins, scanning electron microscopy, solvents, stable isotopes
Here we report the synthesis of thermosetting resins from low molar mass Kraft lignin fractions of high functionality, refined by solvent extraction. Such fractions were fully characterized by ³¹P NMR, 2D-HSQC NMR, SEC, and DSC in order to obtain a detailed description of the structures. Reactive oxirane moieties were introduced on the lignin backbone under mild reaction conditions and quantified by simple ¹H NMR analysis. The modified fractions were chemically cross-linked with a flexible polyether diamine (Mₙ ≈ 2000), in order to obtain epoxy thermosets. Epoxies from different lignin fractions, studied by DSC, DMA, tensile tests, and SEM, demonstrated substantial differences in terms of thermo-mechanical properties. For the first time, strong relationships between lignin structures and epoxy properties could be demonstrated. The suggested approach provides unprecedented possibilities to tune network structure and properties of thermosets based on real lignin fractions, rather than model compounds.