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Polymer Composites Group (Kessler Research Team) 2015

Book Published: “Liquid Crystalline Polymers: Volume 2–Processing and Applications”

Volume 1  Volume 2

Our two new books, titled “Liquid Crystalline Polymers: Volume 1Structure and Chemistry” and “Liquid Crystalline Polymers: Volume 2Processing and Applications” edited by Vijay Kumar Thakur and Michael R. Kessler have just been published.  Each volume contains about 20 chapters and each is over 500 pages long.  Here are descriptions of the two volumes from the publishers website:

Volume 1: This book introduces anisotropic innovations in liquid crystalline polymers as well as new nanocomposite materials and testing techniques. The authors detail the newest discoveries of material properties, material types and phases, and material characterization. This interdisciplinary work creates valuable links that strengthen the approach to the evolving field of liquid crystalline polymers/ materials.

Volume 2:  This book introduces various applications of liquid crystalline polymers as the emerging new class of high performance novel materials. The authors detail the advantageous properties of these LCs including optical anisotropic, transparency and easy control over structure. This interdisciplinary work includes valuable input from international projects with special focus on the use of liquid crystalline polymers and/or nanocomposites.

 Read more at the Springer book site here.



Book Published: “Bio-based Plant Oil Polymers and Composites, 1st Edition”

Bio-based Plant Oil book publishedOur new book, titled “Bio-based Plant Oil Polymers and Composites, 1st Edition” edited by Samy Madbouly, Chaoqun Zhang, and Michael R. Kessler, was released on August 25, 2015.  Here is the overview and Table of Contents.

Key Features

  • Essential coverage of processing, characterization, and the latest research into polymeric materials and composites derived from plant oils (thermoplastics, thermosets, nanocomposites, and fiber reinforced composites)
  • Critically reviews the potential applications of plant oil-based polymers, including sensors, structural parts, medical devices, and automotive interiors
  • Includes the latest developments in multifunctional bio-based polymer composites


Bio-based Plant Oil Polymers and Composites provides engineers and materials scientists a useful framework to help take advantage of the latest research conducted in this rapidly advancing field—enabling them to develop and commercialize their own products quickly and more successfully.

Plant oil is one of the most attractive options as a substitute for non-renewable resources in polymers and composites, and is producing materials with very promising thermomechanical properties relative to traditional, petroleum-based polymers. In addition to critical processing and characterization information, the book assists engineers in deciding whether or not they should use a plant oil-based polymer over a petroleum-based polymer, discussing sustainability concerns, biodegradability, associated costs, and recommended applications.

The book details the advancements in the development of polymeric materials and composites from plant oils, and provides a critical review of current applications in various fields, including packaging, biomedical, and automotive applications. Also includes the latest progress in developing multifunctional biobased polymers—by increasing thermal conductivity or adding antibacterial properties, for example.


Industrial scientists and engineers and academic researchers who focus on plant oil-based polymers, bio-renewable polymers, nanocomposites and fiber reinforced composites.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction of Plant Oils
2. Plant oil-based derivatives
3. Plant oil-based polyurethane
4. Plant oil-based polyhydroxyurethane
5. Plant oil-based polyester
6. Plant oil-based polyether
7. Plant oil-based epoxy and other polymers
8. Enzyme assisted plant oil-based polymers
9. Plant oil-based nanocomposites
10. Fiber reinforced plant oil-based composites
11. Industrial applications of plant oil-based products
12. Future of plant oil-based products

Research featured on cover of Macromolecules and in the popular press

Yuzhan’s article on shape-memory liquid crystalline epoxy resin was featured on the cover of the journal Macromolecules.

  • Yuzhan Li, Cole Pruitt, Orlando Rios, Liqing Wei, Mitch Rock, Jong K. Keum, Armando G. McDonald, Michael R. Kessler. Controlled Shape Memory Behavior of a Smectic Main-Chain Liquid Crystalline Elastomer. Macromolecules, 2015; 48 (9): 2864 DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.5b00519

The work was also featured in the popular press after a press release by our collaborators at Oak Ridge National Lab.

Shape-Shifting Plastic
A new plastic developed by Washington State University and Oak Ridge National Lab can transform from its original shape through a series of temporary shapes and returns to its initial form. The shape-shifting process is controlled through changes in temperature. Read More »

Additional Links:


Bio-based plastics research featured in popular press

WSU News published a press release about our recent ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces paper which describes our new method for making polyurethanes from plant oils.  The press release was picked up by several newspapers, including the Spokesman-Review, and other science news services such as Phys.Org, Science Daily, NSF 360, ScienceNewsline, Science News, EurekaAlert, Observatorio del Plastico, SpecialChem, and Product Design & Development, and SpecialChem Coatings.


Paper featured on the cover of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering

ACS Sustainable Chemistry & EngineeringOur paper “Bio-based Polyurethane Foam Made from Compatible Blends of Vegetable-Oil-based Polyol and Petroleum-based Polyol” was featured on the cover of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. The cover highlights how the Hansen solubility parameters of a soy-castor oil-based polyol and a petroleum-based polyol are investigated to evaluate their miscibility for polyurethane. (See C. Zhang and M. R. Kessler, pp 743–749; DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.5b00049.)


Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites at NPE

Researchers from the new Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2), including group members Mike Kessler and Mitch Rock, spent the week in Orlando, Florida, at the International Plastics Showcase (NPE 2015).  They were there growing their professional network by talking with industry representatives and trying to recruit their companies to join the center.

Professor Mike Kessler and graduate student Mitch Rock at NPE
Professor Mike Kessler and graduate student Mitch Rock at NPE
CB2's booth at the NPE show in Orlando
CB2’s booth at the NPE show in Orlando
Booth space was shared with CB2 member company Laurel BioComposites and included an injection molding machine and robot making over 1200 bioplastic flower pots per day.


For more information about CB2, visit, or follow CB2 on Twitter at @CB2_4U.

Review paper featured on Web of Science

Hot-paperVijay Kumar’s review paper in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering titled “Progress in Green Polymer Composites from Lignin for Multifunctional Applications: A Review” has been featured as a Hot Paper and as a Highly Cited Paper by Web of Science: Link.

Book chapter “Monomers and Resulting Polymers from Biomass” published

1118714482Our new book chapter “Monomers and Resulting Polymers from Biomass”, by James Bergman and Michael Kessler was recently published in  ‘Introduction to Chemicals from Biomass, Second Edition’ Published by Wiley, (edited by James Clark and Fabien Deswarte).  You can check it out here:

Congratulations James on getting this published.

J. Bergman, M. R. Kessler: “Monomers and Resulting Polymers from Biomass” in Introduction to Chemicals from Biomass, 2nd Edition, James H. Clark and Fabien Deswarte, eds., John Wiley and Sons, Ltd. 2015, 157-204. (ISBN: 978-1-118-71448-5)

Here is an outline of the chapter:

5 Monomers and Resulting Polymers from Biomass 157
James A. Bergman and Michael R. Kessler

5.1 Introduction 157

5.2 Polymers from Vegetable Oils 159

5.2.1 Isolation of Vegetable Oil 163

5.2.2 Thermosets of Vegetable Oils and Comonomers 163

5.2.3 Epoxidized and Acrylated Epoxidized Vegetable Oil 164

5.2.4 Polyurethanes from Vegetable Oil 165

5.2.5 Polyesters 167

5.2.6 Polyamides 168

5.2.7 Vegetable Oil Conclusion 168

5.3 Furan Chemistry 169

5.3.1 Production of Furfural and HMF 169

5.3.2 Second-Generation Derivatives 171

5.3.3 Addition Polymerizations 171

5.3.4 Furfuryl Alcohol 172

5.3.5 Polyesters 172

5.3.6 Polyamides 173

5.3.7 Other Polymers 175

5.3.8 Furan Conclusion 176

5.4 Terpenes 176

5.4.1 Production of Turpentine 177

5.4.2 Cationic Polymerization of Pinenes 178

5.4.3 Copolymerization of Pinenes 178

5.4.4 Polymerization of Non-Pinene Terpenes 179

5.4.5 Terpenoids 180

5.4.6 Terpene Conclusion 181

5.5 Rosin 181

5.5.1 Production and Chemistry of Rosin 181

5.5.2 Epoxy Resins from Rosin 183

5.5.3 Polyesters and Polyurethanes from Rosin 184

5.5.4 Thermoplastic Polymers from Rosin: Controlled Radical Techniques 184

5.5.5 Rosin Conclusion 185

5.6 The Potential of Tannins 186

5.6.1 Recent Work with Tannin Polycondensation 187

5.6.2 Tannins Conclusion 189

5.7 Alpha-Hydroxy Acids 189

5.7.1 Production of PLA 190

5.7.2 Properties of PLA 192

5.7.3 Applications of PLA 193

5.8 Conclusion 193

References 193