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Oxidative and non-oxidative degradation of a TDI-based polyurethane foam: Volatile product and condensed phase characterisation by FTIR and solid state 13C NMR spectroscopy

Allan, D., Daly, J.H., Liggat, J.J.
Polymer degradation and stability 2019 v.161 pp. 57-73
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, atmospheric pressure, carbon, carbon dioxide, depolymerization, foams, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, polyols, polyurethanes, stable isotopes, temperature, thermal degradation, toluene, urethane
The oxidative and non-oxidative degradation behaviour of a flexible polyurethane foam, synthesised from toluene diisocyanate and a polyether polyol, is reported. Both toluene diisocyanate and diaminotoluene were identified as major products under non-oxidative conditions, which indicates that the urethane linkages are degrading by two competing degradation mechanisms. Degradation of the urethane linkage by a depolymerisation reaction to yield toluene diisocyanate and polyol is proposed to occur initially. In addition, the atmospheric pressure conditions favour the degradation of the urethane linkages via a six-membered ring transition state reaction to form diaminotoluene, carbon dioxide and alkene terminated polyol chains. Solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy and elemental analysis of the residues indicates that at temperatures above 300 °C ring fusion of the aromatic components within the foam occurs, and this leads to a nitrogen-containing carbonaceous char which has a complex aromatic structure. It is proposed that under the confined conditions of the degradation the aromatic nitrogen-containing species, such as toluene diisocyanate and diaminotoluene, undergo secondary reactions and ring fusion to yield a complex char structure.Under oxidative conditions, degradation, including ring fusion, occurs at a lower temperature than under non-oxidative conditions. Neither toluene diisocyanate nor diaminotoluene were observed as major degradation products. The polyol is observed to undergo thermo-oxidative degradation at much lower temperatures than purely thermal degradation. As a consequence, the depolymerisation reaction via the six-membered ring transition state is limited in extent and diaminotoluene is not evolved. The absence of toluene diisocyanate is proposed to be a result of this species undergoing oxidative degradation reactions which lead to it being incorporated into the char.