Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society

, Volume 89, Issue 11, pp 2103–2111 | Cite as

Preparation and Characterization of Sustainable Polyurethane Foams from Soybean Oils

  • Ruijun GuEmail author
  • Samir Konar
  • Mohini Sain
Original Paper


Polyol derived from soybean oil was made from crude soybean oil by epoxidization and hydroxylation. Soy-based polyurethane (PU) foams were prepared by the in-situ reaction of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) polyurea prepolymer and soy-based polyol. A free-rise method was developed to prepare the sustainable PU foams for use in automotive and bedding cushions. In this study, three petroleum-based PU foams were compared with two soy-based PU foams in terms of their foam characterizations and properties. Soy-based PU foams were made with soy-based polyols with different hydroxyl values. Soy-based PU foams had higher T g (glass transition temperature) and worse cryogenic properties than petroleum-based PU foams. Bio-foams had lower thermal degradation temperatures in the urethane degradation due to natural molecular chains with lower thermal stability than petroleum skeletons. However, these foams had good thermal degradation at a high temperature stage because of MDI polyurea prepolymer, which had superior thermal stability than toluene diisocyanate adducts in petroleum-based PU foams. In addition, soy-based polyol, with high hydroxyl value, contributed PU foam with superior tensile and higher elongation, but lower compressive strength and modulus. Nonetheless, bio-foam made with high hydroxyl valued soy-based polyol had smaller and better distributed cell size than that using low hydroxyl soy-based polyol. Soy-based polyol with high hydroxyl value also contributed the bio-foam with thinner cell walls compared to that with low hydroxyl value, whereas, petroleum-based PU foams had no variations in cell thickness and cell distributions.


Petrochemical Polyurethane foam Soybean oil Soy-based polyol 



The authors are grateful to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)-Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) and Ontario BioCar Initiative for their financial support. The authors thank Dr. William Altenhof for providing commercial petroleum-based PU foams and Mr. Nolan Rempe for his work through Ontario BioaCar Youth Outreach by BioCar. The authors also thank Huntsman, Urethane Soy Systems, and Air Products for their generous donations.


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Copyright information

© AOCS 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Biocomposites and Biomaterials Processing, Faculty of ForestryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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