Corn-based BPA alternative

I did promise to post some of my interviews from my recent bisphenol-A article on ICIS Chemical Business (ICB) so here’s one about a possible alternative to BPA in epoxy resins.

Michael Jaffe, professor of biomedical engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has developed a derivative of corn-based isosorbide that has the potential to replace BPA-based epoxy resins in a number of consumer products, including the lining of tin cans.

NJIT’s patent “Thermoset epoxy polymers from renewable resources” (US Patent 7,619,056) awarded in November 2009 claimed that the derivative bisglycidyl ethers can be a potential substitute for BPA in the manufacture of thermoset epoxy ethers.

“The epoxy includes a water-soluble resin of glycidyl ethers of plant-derived anhydrosugars and a water-soluble curing agent (either plant-derived polyamines or polycarboxylic acids or their derivatives) for curing the resin. The epoxy is cured by baking at an elevated temperature.”

I just need to copy that statement as I don’t want to botch up information. Unfortunately, I have to make a correction in my ICB article, which states that NJIT and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) of the US agricultural cooperative Iowa Corn Growers Association jointly filed the patent.

A spokesperson for NJIT said that ICPB only provided support for the research and is a licensee of the technology. I guess ICPB’s press release threw me off.

Anyway, here are some of my conversation with Michael Jaffe regarding their technology:


Q: When and how did this research first took place?

Jaffe: The research was initiated about four years ago as a partnership between the Iowa corn Promotion Board and scientists on the faculty of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Q: What are the next steps and milestones that NJIT and ICPB are working on in ultimately putting this new epoxy resins to the market?

The next steps are to validate the material performance in partnership with appropriate companies in the epoxy industry. This involves materials scale-up and industry relevant testing of both materials performance and materials safely.

Q: Are there any specific chemical companies or food packaging companies that NJIT/ICPB are currently in dialogue with for this new technology? When do you expect commercialization of this new technology to take place?

Yes. If all goes well commercialization in a two to three year time frame is envisioned.

Q: What challenges the researchers are currently working on in order for this new epoxy resin to be competitive in terms of performance and economy compared to BPA-contained epoxy resins?

Jaffe: Challenges include making suitable volumes of the material available at attractive pricing and to create an industry relevant database that qualifies the product in food contact applications. Food contact though should not be the sole focus. This epoxy resin will be tested to verify it meets specifications for a broad range of applications.

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