PhD Research Assistant
Lei Zheng is currently a graduate student working in Professor John Klier's group from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Zheng has two years of experience in synthesizing emulsion polymers and now works on polyester and polycarbonate-based coatings.
Polyester polyols were prepared using a novel, low-cost, bio-based 1,5 pentanediol monomer (1,5-PDO) provided by Pyran LLC and formulated into solventborne coatings with applications in coil coatings, automotive topcoat coatings, etc. The effects of potential impurities from biomass sources on synthesized polyols were investigated. The coating properties, such as pencil hardness, low-temperature flexibility, adhesion strength, and solvent resistance were characterized and compared with incumbent 1,6-HDO-based coatings. Renewable, low-cost 1,5-PDO-based coatings exhibited similar performance to the coatings based on petroleum-derived 1,6-HDO, indicating potential to substitute low-cost renewable 1,5-PDO for chemically derived 1,6-HDO, while maintaining excellent coating properties. We are currently collaborating with Pyran LLC to develop fully formulated coatings, such as thermoset powder coatings, solventborne coatings, UV-cure coatings, and waterborne polyurethane coatings, using the renewable 1,5-PDO based materials and characterizing cured coatings with a full set of tests.