A new compound called bisguaiacol F (BGF) made from lignin as an alternative to bisphenol-A (BPA) is being developed by researchers at the University of Delaware under the leadership of Dr. Richard Wool, who is an EPA Presidential Green Chemistry awardee last year for his development and design of new bio-based materials as substitutes for toxic substances.
The blog will write more about Professor Wool’s innovative approach at the end of this post. In the meantime, the BGF development was presented by University of Delaware researcher Kaleigh Reno, and her advisor, Professor Wool at this week’s 247th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemistry Council, and you can hear more about the research on the video below (for a limited time).
As you heard from the video, the compound BGF has a similar molecular shape to BPA and is expected to have properties like BPA that can be useful for use in polymers such as polycarbonates, epoxy resins, and even in polystyrene, PVC, etc. However, because of the technique that Professor Wool has been using — the Twinkling Fractal Theory (TFT) he developed, that help predict the functional properties of a material based on its molecular properties, and by using the EPA’s software (EPI Suite) that evaluates the potential toxicity of a material, the researchers are able to determine that BGF will have potentially much lower toxicity compared to BPA.
Professor Wool has already synthesized a number of lignin-based replacements for styrene and identified three of these as being less toxic. One of Professor Wool’s more recent invention is a breathable, bio-based ‘Eco-Leather’ in collaboration with Professor Huantian Cao of the Fashion and Apparel Department at the University of Delaware. Professor Wool started a company in 2012 called Eco-Leather Corp., which is said to be currently collaborating with Nike and Puma, among other well-known shoe brands.
Professor Wool has also designed high oleic soy oil used in pressure sensitive adhesives and elastomers; composite resins, a thermoplastic polyurethane substitute, and an isocyanate-free foam from plant oils. As of 2012, Dixie Chemical began producing Professor Wool’s soy-based composite resins for world-wide market. He developed the bio-based foam for polyurethane application in collaboration with Crey Bioresins Inc., which is now being considered as a replacement component by several packaging and automotive suppliers.