Date of Award

Fall 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Chemical, Biological and Pharmaceutical Engineering

First Advisor

Costas G. Gogos

Second Advisor

Michael Jaffe

Third Advisor

R. P. T. Tomkins

Abstract

With the rapid depletion of non-renewable sourced materials, unpredictable fluctuations in the prices of fossil fuels, and increased environmental awareness the need to develop biobased materials grows ever more desperate. Furan derivatives sourced from hexoses provide a promising solution for replacing petrochemical based materials. One furan derivative in particular, 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), is especially promising due to its structural similarity to terephthalic acid and potential for use in the production of polyesters similar to PET, PPT, and PBT. This study investigated the synthesis, thermal and liquid crystalline properties of a totally renewable sourced thermotropic polyester based on FDCA. Fructose was converted to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, which was then used to synthesize the FDCA monomer. A polycondensation reaction involving 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, hydroquinone, and FDCA was subsequently carried out to produce a random mesogenic polyester. ATR-FTIR spectroscopy was used to analyze the backbone structure of the polymer. Thermal analysis performed on a DSC demonstrated a glass transition temperature and overlapping nematic and isotropic melt phases, suggesting that the polyester is biphasic. This biphasic characteristic was supported by the observations made through an optical microscope with crossed polarizers. The polymer demonstrated both isotropic properties and birefringence with the formation of nematic droplets in the melt. These results exemplify the potential for FDCA derived polyesters to replace their petrochemical derived counterparts.

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