Term of Award

Summer 2017

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Physical Science (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Chemistry

Committee Chair

Rafael Lopes Quirino

Committee Member 1

Christine Whitlock

Committee Member 2

Mujibur Khan


The goal of environmentally sound research is to provide alternatives that are more sustainable and renewable, such as vegetable oil-based polymers, than the current petroleum-based products. Vegetable oil-based polymers have received a lot of attention recently due their multifaceted properties, which are simply achieved by adjusting the monomer or resin composition. The carbon-carbon double bonds in unsaturated oils are ideal reactive sites for the free radical or cationic polymerizations. Most vegetable oils must be modified before polymerization due to the low reactivity of their non-conjugated fatty acid chains. Tung oil (TO) contains ~83% of a triply conjugated fatty acid (α-eleostearic acid), making it an attractive starting material. Without the reinforcing role of fibers, such as cellulose, vegetable oil-based polymers do not have the thermo-mechanical properties to replace petroleum-based polymers. Compatibilizers, such as asolectin and maleic anhydride, have been utilized to enhance the adhesion between resin and reinforcement, consequently enhancing the composites’ thermo-mechanical properties. In this manuscript, the need for a compatibilizer is eliminated through the preparation of a polar matrix from the crosslinking of tung oil fatty acids with the co-monomers divinylbenzene and n-butyl methacrylate. It is shown that the polar regions of the fatty acid can interact directly with a polar reinforcement, such as α-cellulose, through hydrogen bonding. The successful isolation of fatty acids from tung oil was verified by GC-MS, 1H NMR, Raman, and FT-IR spectroscopies. The optimal cure schedule was determined by DSC and DEA. The thermo-mechanical properties were analyzed by TGA, DSC, and DMA.

Research Data and Supplementary Material