Startup founded by ex-NREL researcher close to commercializing non-isocyanate polyurethane technology

April 6, 2021 |

In Colorado, a startup founded by an emeritus researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has moved closer to commercializing technology he helped develop at the U.S. Department of Energy facility. 

The company, Polaris Renewables, is the first business to directly spin off from NREL since 1992. 

Philip Pienkos, who retired in April 2020, founded Polaris Renewables. The Colorado company, with offices in Potsdam, New York, is building upon technology he invented along with Tao Dong and Lieve Laurens of NREL. The renewable polyurethane they developed, called non-isocyanate polyurethane (NIPU), can be made from commercially available oils like linseed oil or soybean oil or even the oils from algae or food wastes. 

The NIPU synthesis pathway also has the advantage of fixing carbon dioxide into the finished product. As much as 30% of the weight is from carbon dioxide delivered during the reaction. This is in addition to the carbon dioxide captured by the plant or alga to produce vegetable oil feedstock from photosynthesis. 

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Category: Research

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