Reprocessing polyurethane foam using dynamic covalent chemistry in extrusion

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Thermoset polyurethanes (PUs) pose recycling challenges due to their crosslinked structure. This study investigates the possibility to directly reprocess PU foams through (dynamic) carbamate exchange using reactive extrusion. By varying compounding temperature and catalyst (dibutyltin dilaurate, DBTDL) concentration, the extrusion process is examined using torque measurements. We clearly show that it is possible to reprocess the PU foam at temperatures well below 200°C and that DBTDL catalyst greatly enhances bond exchange rates during compounding. Reproducible extrusions at 160°C with 0.3 wt% DBTDL result in a material with a gel fraction of 0.90 displaying typical dynamic covalent network behavior, as confirmed by stress relaxation measurements. The measured characteristic relaxation times display an Arrhenius-type temperature dependence with an activation energy of 41 kJ/mol. Successful extrusion of fully crosslinked PU foam at milder temperatures with DBTDL catalyst demonstrates potential for PU foam recycling using reactive extrusion, and generally highlights the feasibility of dynamic crosslink reconfiguration for waste reduction and improved sustainability.
Originele taal-2Engels
Aantal pagina's11
TijdschriftJournal of Applied Polymer Science
Nummer van het tijdschrift7
Vroegere onlinedatum29 nov. 2023
StatusGepubliceerd - 15 feb. 2024


This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 820665 (polynSPIRE). The authors thank Repsol S.A. for providing the PU foam samples and polynSPIRE members for useful discussions.

Horizon 2020820665


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