Sourcing polymers from biobased materials is desirable for a transition to a more sustainable world. However, finding new monomers sourced from biobased molecules requires extensive experimental effort, due to the fact that most biomolecules lack the functional groups or properties needed to serve as a monomer in a particular polymeric system without chemical modification. Here, we demonstrate a computational screening method to obtain monomers of a nonisocyanate polyurethane (NIPU), polyhydroxyurethane (PHU), from biomolecules. Our method generates candidate monomers from a list of 15 selected biobased starting molecules by performing chemical transformations that are standard to chemical catalysis and organic synthesis on these starting molecules and then screening the results for molecules with moieties that can be used as monomers for a PHU. Product molecules from two generations of reaction, a total number of 22,571, were analyzed automatically to identify molecules that have two or more epoxy or cyclic carbonate functional groups as candidates for further derivatization. These 21 candidate molecules were then subjected to another two generations of reaction, producing a set of 17,913 additional molecules. Further scrutiny of this set for desired functional groups characterizing PHUs and querying against the PubChem database were carried out, and 15 known molecules that are commercially available were identified, with the desirable features that they are predicted to be derived from biobased starting molecules in four or fewer steps. Moreover, molecule space generated from this process was primarily comprised of molecules that were not known to PubChem, indicating the framework also has the ability to generate novel candidate monomers that originate from biobased starting points.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering