Is Green & Bio Polyols A Strong Competitor Of Synthetic Polyols?
Green and bio polyols are either synthesized from natural oils, such as soya, castor, palm, canola, and sunflower, or natural sources, such as corn and sugar, or carbon dioxide (CO2). They are also recycled from polymers such as polyurethanes (PU) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). These polyols are used to make PU rigid and flexible foams and coatings, adhesives, sealants, and elastomers (CASE), which are used in several end-use industries. The green and bio polyols market comprises polyether polyols and polyester polyols. Green and bio-based polyether polyols are obtained by polycondensation reaction of propane-1,3-diol derived from Glycerine, which can be obtained from several plant sources. Bio-based polyester polyols are formed by the condensation of bio-based dicarboxylic acids, such as adipic or succinic acid, with bio-based polyols (propane-1, 3-diol).
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The Global green and bio polyols market is estimated to be 4,389.0 USD Million in 2022 and projected to reach 6,8992.2 USD Million registering a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5% between 2022 and 2027. Factors such as eco-friendliness and sustainability of bio polyols, consistent supply of bio-based feedstock, and crude oil price fluctuations affect the green and bio polyols market directly and indirectly. Increasing use of bio polyols in the automotive and packaging industries and recycling of polyols from foam-based waste offer lucrative growth opportunities for the green and bio polyols market. However, the high costs of these polyols as compared to conventional polyols are a major restraint for market players.
The growth of the market is primarily backed by the high demand from growing end-use industries in North America and Europe, which prefer PU foam manufactured from eco-friendly and sustainable materials. Stringent regulations associated with chemical manufacturing are also driving the market for global green and bio polyols.
Glycerine dominated the green & bio polyols market accounting for around 45% of the sales revenue. The yield ranges is between 80% and 95 % is one of the major factors for the high consumption of Glycerine for the production of green & Bio Polyols. Further the crude Glycerine benefit the biodiesel manufacturers by eliminating the disposal fees and creating a new revenue source for them.
Polyols are generally produced from petroleum derivatives. However, concerns regarding the sustainability of petroleum-based PU have led to the development of green or bio-based PU derived from renewable sources such as natural oils and sugar. Polyols derived from renewable sources are used to produce various PU materials such as foams, elastomers, rigid plastics, and coatings because of their high versatility. These materials have shown properties comparable to those of their petroleum-based counterparts.
Various renewable sources are available to produce green or bio-based polyols. The major sources for polyols production are natural oil and its derivatives; sugar from which bio-based diols such as 1,3-propanediol (PDO), BDO, and diacids (succinic acids) can be derived; and CO2. Polyols can also be recycled from PU and PET polymers.
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Key Raw Materials For The Production Of Green & Bio Polyols
- Bio polyols made from natural oils are also known as natural oil polyols. These polyols can be made from soybean oil, rapeseed (canola) oil, palm oil, castor oil, and sunflower oil. The usage of a specific natural oil can be dependent on the region.
- Bio polyols can be made from succinic acid, which can be produced by the carbon-neutral fermentation of sugar. Sugar itself can be produced from many sources, such as sugarcane, sugar beet, and corn. Bio-based succinic acid and its derivatives have performance advantages in a wide variety of applications.
- For the production from Glycerine the reactor is loaded with crude Glycerine, biomass, and a catalyst and heated at atmospheric pressure in the one-pot catalytic process that produces bio polyol from lignocellulosic biomass. During the reaction, methanol is recovered and reused for biodiesel production using a distillation system at temperatures around 100°C. When the reactor reaches the desired temperature, the crude Glycerine (both Glycerine and impurities) reacts with the biomass in the presence of the catalyst to produce bio polyol.
- CO2-based polyols are made by the co-polymerization of CO2 and epoxides, with the resulting products containing more than 40% by weight of CO2. These results in aliphatic polycarbonate structures, of which the most common are polypropylene carbonate (made from propylene oxide and carbon dioxide) and polyethylene carbonate (made from ethylene oxide and carbon dioxide). The amount of CO2 present can be controlled by the reaction catalyst; alternating materials such as polypropylene carbonate and polyethylene carbonate can have a high CO2 content. The use of waste CO2 as a significant raw material yields a product with an extremely low carbon footprint. As the price of waste CO2 is significantly lower than conventional petroleum-based raw materials, polyols manufactured from CO2 cost less than conventional polyols produced from petroleum derivatives.