Polymer Chemistry | Very Important Paper


Polyurethane (PU) foams are indisputably daily essential materials found in many applications, notably for comfort (for example, matrasses) or energy saving (for example, thermal insulation). Today, greener routes for their production are intensively searched for to avoid the use of toxic isocyanates. An easily scalable process for the simple construction of self‐blown isocyanate‐free PU foams by exploiting the organocatalyzed chemo‐ and regioselective additions of amines and thiols to easily accessible cyclic carbonates is described. These reactions are first validated on model compounds and rationalized by DFT calculations. Various foams are then prepared and characterized in terms of morphology and mechanical properties, and the scope of the process is illustrated by modulating the composition of the reactive formulation. With impressive diversity and accessibility of the main components of the formulations, this new robust and solvent‐free process could open avenues for construction of more sustainable PU foams, and offers the first realistic alternative to the traditional isocyanate route.

Prof. Christine JEROME