Broadening the application scope of bio-based isocyanate- and epoxy-free 2K resins

Two-component (2K) resins are used in many applications, including paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants, flooring, electronics and footwear. The technique usually relies on the reactivity of isocyanate or epoxy components, but these are undesirable from both an toxicological and environmental perspective. Wageningen Food & Biobased research (WFBR) wants to team up with industrial partners to further develop a promising isocyanate- and epoxy-free two-component resin system derived from renewable resources.

The challenge

The 2K technique involves the mixing of two (sometimes more) reactive components shortly before application. The components are so reactive that they usually do not need additional energy to achieve complete cure. Compared to most other resin and coating types, the advantages of this technique are numerous:

  • low energy costs
  • short process times
  • excellent mechanical properties and chemical resistance after curing
  • very low volatile organic compound (VOC) content

Current 2K resin formulations are predominantly based on either isocyanates or epoxides. Despite their good overall performance, both systems have drawbacks:

  • they are based on finite, petroleum feedstock;
  • isocyanates react with water, causing defects under humid conditions;
  • they contain aggressive chemicals that require safety measures when using these products.

Driven by the risk of ever stricter regulations, and the demand for more sustainable products, industry is looking for ‘greener’ and safer alternatives for 2K isocyanate and epoxy resins.

Our answer

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has developed a 2K resin system free of isocyanates and epoxides, derived from renewable resources. Curing of the bio-based system is based on Michael-addition chemistry. Initial research has focused on optimising the resin to produce elastic polymer networks (‘elastomers’) for a specific outdoor application, where it is able to match the performance of the current isocyanate-based products. We believe that the new system has the potential to replace isocyanate and epoxy formulations in many other application areas.

Join our shared research development

A first opportunity for collaborating on this topic in a PPS initiative is the call for proposals from the Topsector Agri & Food, which opened on April 1, 2021. The two-stage submission procedure asks for project ideas (deadline May 16, 2021) in stage 1. Full proposals have to be submitted before September 14, 2021. We invite interested Agri-feedstock suppliers, resin producers and end-users of 2K products to get involved in this exciting new development, by contacting us.