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Keywords:

  • lignin;
  • renewable resources;
  • resins;
  • styrene;
  • sustainable chemistry

Abstract

Lignin is a copious paper and pulping waste product that has the potential to yield valuable, low molecular weight, single aromatic chemicals when strategically depolymerized. The single aromatic lignin model compounds, vanillin, guaiacol, and eugenol, were methacrylated by esterification with methacrylic anhydride and a catalytic amount of 4-dimethylaminopyridine. Methacrylated guaiacol (MG) and methacrylated eugenol (ME) exhibited low viscosities at room temperature (MG: 17 cP and ME: 28 cP). When used as reactive diluents in vinyl ester resins, they produced resin viscosities higher than that of vinyl ester–styrene blends. The relative volatilities of MG (1.05 wt % loss in 18 h) and ME (0.96 wt % loss in 18 h) measured by means of thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) were considerably lower than that of styrene (93.7 wt % loss in 3 h) indicating the potential of these chemicals to be environmentally friendly reactive diluents. Bulk polymerization of MG and ME generated homopolymers with glass transition temperatures (Tgs) of 92 and 103 °C, respectively. Blends of a standard vinyl ester resin with MG and ME (50 wt % reactive diluent) produced thermosets with Tgs of 127 and 153 °C, respectively, which are comparable to vinyl ester–styrene resins, thus demonstrating the ability of MG and ME to completely replace styrene as reactive diluents in liquid molding resins without sacrificing cured-resin thermal performance.