Canadian researchers make polyurethane alternative from fish guts

April 5, 2021 |

In Newfoundland, researchers at Memorial University have described a process to turn fish heads, bones, skin and guts into a biodegradable replacement for polyurethane. 

The researchers first extracted oil from Atlantic salmon waste polymer, then added oxygen to form epoxides. When reacted with carbon dioxide, the epoxides become connected by nitrogen-containing amines, creating a new material with properties similar to polyurethane. 

“It is important that we start designing plastics with an end-of-life plan, whether it’s chemical degradation that turns the material into carbon dioxide and water, or recycling and repurposing,” says lead researcher Francesca Kerton, Ph.D. She insists that the resulting material does not have a fishy odor. 

Polyurethanes are typically made from oil and can be found in applications like shoes, construction materials, and clothing. Several toxic intermediates are associated with production.  The work was recently presented at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society. 

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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