A New Approach to Making Bio-Synthetic Latexes in Emulsion Polymerization
NSERC – Collaborative Research and Development Grant (CRD)

Co-Application: Dr. Marc A. Dubé, University of Ottawa

Industry Partner: EcoSynthetix Corp.

EcoSynthetix Inc. (ECO) manufactures a novel starch-based nanoparticle known as EcoSphere®. It is in worldwide commercial use as a binder to replace synthetic, petroleum-derived polymers. EcoSphere is produced using starches derived from annually renewable crop resources. ECO has recently developed a novel polymerizable nanoparticle technology known as BioCore to enable its copolymerization into biobased latex hybrid products and is currently seeking new markets and technologies for this innovative product. In previous projects with ECO, the applicants provided a proof-of-principle and successfully demonstrated the incorporation of BioCore into stable emulsion polymer latexes using a protocol jointly developed by UO, Queen’s and ECO. These studies have led to a number of questions that must be asked in order to bring BioCore closer to commercialization and to provide necessary patent protection. A number of practical and fundamental issues need to be addressed:

1 – A detailed physical/chemical characterization of BioCore and various grades thereof must be completed.

2- A fundamental understanding of the mechanistic role of BioCore in latex stability and particle nucleation must be further developed. ECO will prepare different grades of BioCore to help us achieve this goal.

3- The role of BioCore on latex particle morphology needs to be further clarified.

4- The development of an industrially applicable reaction formulation and polymerization protocol for a broad range of polymer systems is necessary. This implies the achievement of high solids content latexes (>45 wt.%) with high BioCore content (>40 phm, parts per hundred parts monomer).

We expect that the results from this project will be disruptive and will lead BioCore to become the major component of polymer products with the highest levels of renewable materials on the market. We also expect benefits to the environment, emanating from both a reduction in the use of petroleum-based feedstock and potentially, a more biodegradable polymer product.