Successful Initial Development of Styrene Substitutes and Suppressants for Vinyl Ester Resin Formulations

Report No. ARL-TR-3023
Authors: John J. La Scala, Eric J. Robineete, Giuseppe R. Palmese, James M. Sands, Joshua A. Orlicki, and Matthew S. Bratcher
Date/Pages: August 2003; 61 pages
Abstract: Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency increased legislation to address hazardous emissions from composite manufacturing and repair by enacting new emission standards through the "National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Reinforced Plastic Composites Production", which specifically targets styrene as a regulated hazardous air pollutant. Volatile organic compound emissions are liberated during all phases of composite fabrication. Three means of reducing the styrene emissions are proposed and investigated in this report, including using a bimodal blend of vinyl ester (VE) monomers to reduce viscosities, replacing styrene with low-volatile petroleum or fatty acid (FA)-based monomers, and incorporating self-assembling vapor barriers using surface-active dendritic polymers to suppress styrene emissions. Each approach for reducing styrene emission shows considerable promise, bimodal VE monomer formulations to petroleum-based substitutes, such as cyclohexyl methacrylate, to renewable organic monomers based on FA derivates proved successful at reducing styrene emission rates. The least progress was achieved in determining dendritic monomers capable of remaining intermixed in the resin and still actively sealing the surface against vapor losses. The specific formulation details and the approaches necessary to meet cost restrictions are also considered.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: August 1, 2003