New non-isocyanate polyurethanes and non-toxic polycarbonates from biorefineries.

Vipriscar has brought the first pilot-scale quantities of new families of “NIPUs” (non-isocyanate polyurethanes) and non-toxic polycarbonates, via the biobased building block “IBMC”, isosorbide bis(methyl carbonate). B4Plastics has piloted this new building block to 100-kg-level and simulates ton-scale production towards novel materials.

Vegan Leather is a member of CrossRoads2: Sustainable Energy, which is financed by Interreg V Flanders-Netherlands, the cross-border cooperation programme with financial support from the European Regional Development Fund.

The Problem

Current commercial polyurethanes and polycarbonates are predominantly made via isocyanates or fossil phenol chemistries, respectively. The fossil and non-degradable nature of these materials contradicts the sustainable excellence of the New Plastics Economy.

  • a

    Toxicity of isocyanate polyurethanes

  • a

    non-recyclability of such polyurethanes

  • a

    Waste disposal of mattresses

A deeper dive into the problem

Isosorbide (IS) is still a low market volume bio-based chemical, but with a high Cumulative Annual Growing Rate of 10.9%. The use of isosorbide (IS) in the manufacturing of intermediate building blocks and high volume polymers, such as polycarbonates, has some drawbacks that could be overcome by using isosorbide bis(methyl carbonate) (IBMC), a barely explored IS secondary building block which is proposed to enhance IS value chain. VIPRISCAR has validated a highly-efficient IBMC production process in an industrially relevant environment (TRL 5) able to be up-scaled and produce, under suitable market conditions, IBMC at a similar price to that of current oil-based monomers used in polycarbonates and polyurethanes. The project also shows a proof of principle for the added value IBMC brings to the market by demonstrating the usefulness of polymers derived thereof in three high-volume market sectors: industrial coatings, hot-melt adhesives, and biomedicine (antithrombotic-antimicrobial catheters).

The Solution

Biorefinery raw materials can be converted mildly into the new polyurethane and polycarbonate precursor IBMC. From this biobased building block, polyurethanes and polycarbonates can be prepared without the need of toxic isocyanates or fossil phenols.

A deeper dive into the solution

How Vipriscar helps to grow the New Plastics Economy

The New Plastics Economy will not fall from heaven, it will grow from the soil. In the case of Vipriscar it is European soil.

Technical Readiness Level

Level 1
Product demonstration

Eureka moment in the head






The Value Chain

Steps in the value chain

Transitioning from lineair to circular

Raw material production

and use


  • 1

    Raw Material

  • 2

    Monomer production

  • 3

    Polymer production

  • 4

    Plastic conversion

  • 5

    Production of plastic products

  • 6


  • 7

    Collection/ sorting and recycling

  • 8

    End of life

Bio-based value chain The Project B4Plastics 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Raw material production

1 Raw material

Sugar-rich waste exstracted from sugar beets.

This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 790440.


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