Renewable and recyclable covalent adaptable networks based on bio-derived lipoic acid

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The modern materials economy is inefficient since most products are principally derived from non-renewable feedstocks and largely single-use in nature. Conventional thermoset materials are often inherently unreprocessable due to their irreversible covalent crosslinks and hence are challenging to recycle and/or reprocess. Covalent adaptable networks (CAN)s, which incorporate reversible or dynamic covalent bonding, have emerged as an efficient means to afford reprocessable crosslinked materals and increasing the feedstock sustainability of CANs is a developing aim. In this study, the biomass-derived lipoic acid, which possesses a dynamic cyclic disulfide moiety, was transformed into a series of bifunctional monomers via a one-step esterification or amidation reaction and reacted with a commercially available multi-valent thiol in the presence of an organobase catalyst to afford dynamically crosslinked networks. Large differences in material properties, such as storage modulus and glass transition temperature, were observed when the ratio of the lipoic acid-based monomer to thiol (from 1:1 to 16:1) and the composition of the monomer were changed to modify the network architecture. The thermomechanical properties of an optimised formulation were investigated more thoroughly to reveal a moderately strong rubber (ultimate tensile strength = 1.83 ± 0.41 MPa) possessing a large rubbery plateau (from 0 to 150 °C) which provides an adaptable material with a wide operational temperature range. Finally, the chemical recycling, or depolymerisation, of the optimised network was also demonstrated by simply solvating the material in the presence of a organobase catalyst.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolymer Chemistry
Early online date17 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Sep 2021


  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioengineering


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