Rigid polyurethane (PU) foams were prepared using three North American seed oil starting materials. Polyol with terminal primary hydroxyl groups synthesized from canola oil by ozonolysis and hydrogenation based technology, commercially available soybean based polyol and crude castor oil were reacted with aromatic diphenylmethane diisocyanate to prepare the foams. Their physical and thermal properties were studied and compared using dynamic mechanical analysis and thermogravimetric analysis techniques, and their cellular structures were investigated by scanning electron microscope. The chemical diversity of the starting materials allowed the evaluation of the effect of dangling chain on the properties of the foams. The reactivity of soybean oil-derived polyols and of unrefined crude castor oil were found to be lower than that of the canola based polyol as shown by their processing parameters (cream, rising and gel times) and FTIR. Canola-PU foam demonstrated better compressive properties than Soybean-PU foam but less than Castor-PU foam. The differences in performance were found to be related to the differences in the number and position of OH-groups and dangling chains in the starting materials, and to the differences in cellular structure.
Canola oilCastor oilMechanical and thermal propertiesPolyurethanesPolyolsRigid foams from plant oilsSoybean oil