Isocyanates serve as important and versatile chemical intermediates in the manufacture of diverse products ranging from flexible and rigid polyurethane foams to agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. The production of isocyanates today draws mainly from petrochemical raw materials, including benzene, toluene, propylene, and aniline, and they are produced industrially using phosgenation of alkyl or aromatic amines. This involves highly toxic phosgene and produces corrosive HCl, limiting synthetic applications.
Researchers from UC San Diego searching for a renewable source for diisocyanates, have invented a practical methodology for the production of isocyanates from algae-biomass-derived fatty acids or other renewable sources. This technique utilizes flow chemistry to prepare and convert high-energy intermediates, thus mitigating safety concerns. The technology leverages the use of continuous flow to prepare acyl azides from hydrazides, affording isocyanates in one scalable process.
The method is efficient, safe, and sustainable, offers an opportunity to prepare isocyanates and diisocyanates from renewable feedstocks, and is amenable to distributed manufacturing processes.
UC San Diego is seeking partners to commercialize this technology. Worldwide rights are available.
renewable isocyanate, algae oil, flow chemistry, sustainable carboxylic acid, acyl azide, hydrazide