Case ID: M24-034P^

Published: 2024-06-20 13:47:40

Last Updated: 1718891260


Logan Hessefort
Kyle Biegasiewicz

Technology categories

Advanced Materials/NanotechnologyApplied TechnologiesEnvironmentalPhysical Science

Licensing Contacts

Physical Sciences Team

Biocatalytic Transcarbamoylation for Sustainable Polyurethane Depolymerization, Non-isocyanate Polyurethane production, and Late-stage Functionalization


Polyurethane recycling involves the collection and processing of polyurethane materials, typically from discarded products or waste, to create new usable materials or products. Polyurethanes (PURs) account for about 3 megatons of plastic waste annually in the United States. However, the durability and thermoset nature of PURs poses significant recycling challenges, as they decompose before melting, making mechanical recycling impossible using traditional industrial methodologies.

Existing methods like burying waste in landfills or burning it contribute to environmental harm, releasing pollutants and greenhouse gases. Additionally, while late-stage functionalization chemistry is extensively employed in pharmaceuticals, finding highly selective methods with minimal side product formation remains a challenge. There is a need for a novel, integrated, and enzymatic approach to polyurethane (PUR) recycling and late-stage functionalization, providing a cost effective and sustainable alternative to conventional recycling methods.

Invention Description

Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a novel enzymatic method for polyurethane (PUR) depolymerization. This technology is a method for polymerization of non-isocyanate polyurethanes (NIPUs) and a selective late-stage functionalization process through catalytic transcarbamoylation. This system offers an efficient and sustainable solution for the challenges of PUR recycling and the catalytic modification of compounds with cosmetic, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. This system primarily employs hydrolase enzymes, particularly widely commercially available endoproteases, which have established their effectiveness in performing catalytic transcarbamoylation on small molecules. Importantly, this process operates under significantly milder conditions than traditional transcarbamoylation techniques, reducing the need for high temperatures and toxic catalysts.

Potential Applications:

  • Polyurethane recycling manufacturing
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Cosmetic manufacturing

Benefits and Advantages:

  • Uses enzymatic transcarbamoylation which provides a safer, more sustainable alternative while minimizing health and environmental risks
  • Operational efficiency by operating under milder conditions at approximately 50°C and pH 10 versus traditional conditions exceeding 100°C and high alkalinity at pH> 14.
  • Versatility in late-stage functionalization such as PEGlyation technique which is commonly used in medicinal chemistry