Synthesis and Characterization of High-Performing Sulfur-Free Tannin Foams

Polymers (Basel). 2020 Mar 4;12(3):564. doi: 10.3390/polym12030564.


Tannin foams are green lightweight materials that have attracted industrial interest for the manufacturing of sandwich panels for insulation purposes. However, the dimensions of the cells and the presence of sulfur in the formulation developed until now have discouraged their upscaling. In this work, we present the synthesis and the characterization of the more promising small cell and sulfur-free materials. It was observed that, with respect to standard ones, foams catalyzed with nitric acid present similar physical properties and more phenolic character, which favors the absorption of ionic pollutants. Conversely, the foams blown with aliphatic solvents and surfactants present smaller pores, and higher mechanical and insulating properties, without affecting the chemical properties or the heating value. The combined foam produced with nitric acid as a catalyst and petroleum ether as a blowing agent result in sulfur-free and small cell material with overall improved features. These foams have been produced at 30 × 30 × 3 cm3, with high homogeneity and, to date, they represent the most suitable formulation for industrial upscaling.

Keywords: bio-polymers; flavonoids; furanics; heating value; pentane; polyphenols; sulphur.