1. K-State home
  2. »Research Foundation
  3. »Technologies
  4. »11-31

Research Foundation

Ring Opening of Epoxidized Oleo-Chemicals Using a Novel Acid-Functionalized Iron Nanoparticle Catalyst

Reference Number: 11-31

Inventors: Hongwang Wang, Stefan H. Bossmann, Byungjun Kolbe Ahn and Xiuzhi Susan Sun


Hydroxyl soybean oils, also called soy polyols, are biobased chemicals designed to replace petroleum-based polyols which are most commonly used in the production of polyurethanes. Although biobased feedstocks are used in the production of soy polyols, current production methods do not emphasize “green” chemistry as most require high temperatures and heavy acids to activate the epoxide ring. Additionally, current processes require multiple steps for acid removal and solvent purification. Considering this, researchers have become increasingly interested in identifying and utilizing heterogeneous solid acid catalyst to replace the traditional and less environmentally sound non-recyclable homogeneous acid-catalyst currently used in industrial processes. Although there are currently several heterogeneous catalysts such as SAC 13 and Amberlite 15 being sold in the market, such products have been shown to suffer from low production yield and high energy consumption.

With the above issues in mind, researchers at Kansas State University have developed a new heterogeneous catalyst process for producing soy polyols that utilizes novel recyclable sulfamic acid-functionalized iron (iron/iron oxide core/shell) nanoparticles. This novel catalyst provides for a reaction that consumes less energy while producing higher yields than currently available solid catalysts. Life cycle assessment also shows that the K-State catalyst technology is superior or equal to the competing processes for producing soy polyol with respect to nine environmental impacts.


  • Reaction efficiency equal to H2SO4, with lower reaction time and temperature than other solid catalyst
  • Atom economy equal to H2SO4, and higher than other solid catalyst
  • More versatile than sulfonic acid-functionalized catalyst
  • Nanoparticles circumvent resin swelling and are efficiently removed with a magnetic field
  • Recyclable heterogeneous catalysts minimize environmental impact
  • Nanoparticle catalyst can be synthesized in fewer steps and at lower costs than other acid-functionalized solid catalyst


  • Synthetic method to obtain soy polyols that emphasizes green chemistry
  • Can be used as catalysts in any ring-opening reaction of an epoxide

Patent Status

  • U.S. patent #8,877,951 issued on November 4, 2014.

Kansas State University Research Foundation seeks to have discussions with companies that are interested in licensing and/or research collaborations.

Interested parties should contact:

Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization (KSU-IC)
2005 Research Park Circle Manhattan, KS 66502
Tel: 785-532-3900 Fax: 785-532-3909
E-Mail: ic@k-state.edu