High oleic sunflower oil-based polyol was obtained by thiol-ene coupling and applied in the preparation of flexible polyurethane foams. The photochemically initiated thiol-ene click reaction was carried out under UV irradiation using 2-mercaptoethanol. Bio-based polyol with hydroxyl value of 201.4 mg KOH/g was used as 30 wt% substituent of petrochemical polyether polyol in the formulations of flexible foams. Both reference foams, as well as foams modified with bio-based polyol, were formulated to have various isocyanate indices (0.85, 0.95, 1.05). Flexible foams were compared in terms of their thermomechanical properties and analyzed using FT-IR and SEM microscopy. Modification with bio-based polyol resulted in foams with superior compression properties, higher support factor, and lower resilience than reference foams. TGA and FT-IR curves confirmed the presence of urethane/urea and ether linkages in the polyurethane matrix. Moreover, double glass transition temperature corresponding to soft and hard segments of polyurethane was observed by DSC proving the phase-separated morphology.
Foam products are one of the largest markets for polyurethane (PU) and are heavily used in many sectors. However, current PU formulations use highly toxic and environmentally unfriendly production processes. Meanwhile, the increasing environmental concerns and regulations are intensifying the research into green and non-toxic products. In this study, we synthesized flexible polyurethane foam (PUF) using different weight percentages (0.025%, 0.05% and 0.1%) of a non-toxic bismuth catalyst. The bismuth-catalyzed foams presented a well evolved cellular structure with an open cell morphology. The properties of the bismuth-catalyzed flexible PUF, such as the mechanical, morphological, kinetic and thermal behaviors, were optimized and compared with a conventional tin-catalyzed PUF. The bismuth-catalyst revealed a higher isocyanate conversion efficiency than the stannous octoate catalyst. When comparing samples with similar densities, the bismuth-catalyzed foams present better mechanical behavior than the tin-catalyzed sample with similar thermal stability. The high solubility of bismuth triflate in water, together with its high Lewis acidity, have been shown to benefit the production of PU foams.