Newswise — From agricultural crops to composite building products, research underway by a team of scientists and engineers at North Dakota State University, Fargo, and the private sector could result in products to meet market demand for “green” composite building materials. The two-year $200,000 grant awarded by the North Dakota Renewable Energy Council will fund a portion of a project titled “Biobased Non-Isocyanate Urethane Hybrid Resins for Pultrusion Composites.” NDSU and Tecton Products, LLC, Fargo, N.D., are collaborating on the research.

Composites are traditionally made from glass fibers held together with a petrochemical-based binder resin. The interdisciplinary research team will develop new types of bio-based binder resins from agricultural products such as soybean oil, cellulose, and sugar.

Representatives on the collaborative research team include: Chad Ulven, assistant professor, NDSU Department of Mechanical Engineering; Dean Webster, professor, NDSU Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials; Dennis Wiesenborn, professor, and Judith Espinoza Perez, postdoctoral research fellow, NDSU Department of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering; and personnel from Tecton Products, LLC.

Using various chemical reactions on the agricultural raw materials, a series of candidate resins will be prepared for use in composites. The resins in composites will then be tested to identify the most promising resin candidates. NDSU and Tecton will collaborate to scale up the most promising resin systems for testing in a production environment.

“This type of material could be used in building products to meet a growing demand for ‘green’ composite materials,” said Ulven. The resulting product would be expected to have low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Such a product may also have enhanced physical properties, compared to its traditional counterpart. If successful, the composite materials could be commercialized and manufactured with the novel resin being developed with agricultural products.

The North Dakota Renewable Energy Council, under the State Industrial Commission, provided funding for the research to promote the growth of North Dakota’s renewable energy industries through research, development, marketing, and education.

The project underscores interdisciplinary research of scientific and engineering leaders to innovate in the area of renewable building products. In addition to North Dakota Industrial Commission funds, the North Dakota Soybean Council awarded $80,000 to support the research project.

About NDSUNorth Dakota State University, Fargo, is notably listed among the nation’s top 108 public and private universities in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education’s elite category of “Research Universities/Very High Research Activity.” With a reputation for excellence in teaching and multidisciplinary research, NDSU links academics to opportunities. As a student-focused, land grant, research institution with more than 14,000 students, NDSU is listed in the top 40 research universities without a medical school in the U.S., based on research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation.