University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Flame Retardant Monomers and Polymers
This invention provides new flame retardant monomers and polymers made using such and other monomers. The new flame retardant monomers can reduce polymer flammability due to char formation. Upon the incorporation of such monomers into the polymer structure, their additional functional groups or handles impart reactivity to the polymer, enabling the formation of new functional polymeric and composite materials.
Published: 9/14/2016   |   Inventor(s): Todd Emrick, Aabid Mir, Umesh Choudhary
Category(s): Chemicals, Material science, Physical Science
Rapid, Sensitive and Selective Sensors for Ionic Mercury
The ability to rapidly and selectively detect and quantify chemicals has profound implications for human and environmental health. As poisonous chemicals, such as mercury (from solid-waste incineration and fossil-fuel combustion), continue to contaminate land and/or water, the development of portable, convenient “in the field” chemosensors becomes critically important. This invention provides novel colorimetric sensors for rapid, sensitive and selective detection of ionic mercury (Hg2+). The detection can be implemented using paper strip, dipstick or solution based sensors that are easy and inexpensive to manufacture and convenient to use for “in the field” measurements.
Published: 6/25/2015   |   Inventor(s): Raja Shunmugam, Gregory Tew
Category(s): Chemicals, Devices & sensors
Deoxybenzoin-based Anti-flammable Polyphosphonate and Poly(arylate-phosphonate) Copolymer Compounds
Synthetic polymers are used extensively as plastics, rubbers, foams, textiles, and construction materials; however, the flammability of many polymers is recognized as a safety hazard and an important challenge in polymer research. To reduce polymer flammability, halogenated small molecule flame-retardant additives are commonly incorporated into polymer materials. However, such halogenated additives may compromise polymer properties, and moreover pose environmental problems associated with additive leaching. To overcome these problems, researchers at UMass Amherst have developed halogen-free, inherently flame-retardant polymers. This invention provides deoxybenzoin-based anti-flammable polyphosphonate and poly(acylate-phophonate copolymer compounds with low heat release capacity values and high char yields.
Published: 6/19/2015   |   Inventor(s): Todd Emrick, T. Ranganathan, E. Bryan Coughlin, Richard Farris, Joseph Zilberman
Category(s): Chemicals, Environmental, Material science, Physical Science
Anti-flammable Compounds and Adhesive Materials
This invention provides new chemical compositions and methods for the preparation of adhesive materials that have low flammability. The low flammability is due to newly invented organic/polymeric components used in the adhesive formulation, rather than through the addition of a conventional anti-flammable additives such as halogenated organic molecules or phosphorous-containing structures.
Published: 6/17/2015   |   Inventor(s): Todd Emrick, Justin Timmons, Megan Szyndler
Category(s): Chemicals, Environmental, Material science, Physical Science
Production of Hydrogen, Liquid Fuels, and Chemicals from Catalytic Processing of Bio-Oils
Need for Advancements in Bio Oil Technology

Several companies have been formed around the fast pyrolysis technique. Fast pyrolysis is the rapid heating of biomass (up to 9000C) in the absence of oxygen. Process conditions cause biomass to vaporize and then liquefy into bio-oil. Bio-oil is viscous, acidic and thermally unstable. On account of the high oxygen content, it is also low in energy content. These features make it unsuitable for use as a liquid fuel. Upgrading it by removing the oxygen content and by converting some of the high molecular weight compounds is a significant challenge.

Published: 5/29/2015   |   Inventor(s): George Huber, Tushar Vispute, Kamalakanta Routray
Category(s): Environmental, Chemicals
Enhanced hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose into glucose
Selective hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose into glucose is an important chemical reaction for the production of renewable biofuels and platform chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass. However, hydrolysis of cellulose remains a processing challenge. The current methods are not economically feasible compared to petroleum and the enzymatic catalytic pathway utilizes toxic and corrosive acids. In contrast, this novel invention overcomes these limits via a two-step process for the hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose to increase the efficiency of the acid catalyzed hydrolysis reaction. This prevents re-lamination of the glucan chains thus allowing for a rapid production of water-soluble sugar oligomers. A carbon-based catalyst can then rapidly hydrolyze the water-soluble glucan oligomers to 91.2% glucose yield faster than conventional approaches due to enhanced adsorption of glucan oligomers on the carbon surface.
Published: 4/24/2015   |   Inventor(s): Wei Fan, Paul Jakob Dauenhauer, Paul Dornath
Category(s): Chemicals, Environmental, Engineering, Clean Energy
Crystalline Polymer Resins
Dr. Bryan Coughlin and his coworkers at UMass Amherst developed an efficient method to synthesize inorganic-organic hybrid copolymers based on polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxanes (POSS).  And, they investigated how such inorganic-organic nano-composites can be used to improve properties of polyolefin materials.


The investigators have discovered that the addition of a small amount of polyethylene-POSS (PE-POSS) materials developed in the Coughlin lab to commercial samples of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) greatly improves the melt crystallization and melt flow characteristics of such commodity LLDPE samples. These improved properties will result in increased processing possibilities and enable novel applications of polyolefin materials.

Published: 11/19/2014   |   Inventor(s): E. Bryan Coughlin, Yoshinobu Nozue, Shuichiro Seno
Category(s): Physical Science, Chemicals
Adhesion of a Metal Layer to a Substrate and Related Structures
The invention describes methods and resulting structures in which a metal layer is adhered to a surface of a substrate.  The methods involve applying a sacrificial acidic organic layer to the substrate prior to depositing the metal layer.  The sacrificial layer is consumed, leaving behind a metal/substrae interface that has excellent adhesion properties.
Published: 11/18/2014   |   Inventor(s): James Watkins, Yinfeng Zong
Category(s): Material science, Nanotechnology, Chemicals, Devices
Process for Synthesis of Oriented Molecular Sieve Membranes with Improved Separation Performance
A modified seeded growth method was developed that allows the fabrication of zeolite MFI films that have straight 5.5Angstrom channels perpendicular to the membrane surface. The membranes show improved separation performance. For example, they have the highest permeance and selectivity reported up to now for xylene isomer separation.
Published: 11/18/2014   |   Inventor(s): Michael Tsapatsis, Zhiping Lai, Griselda Bonilla
Category(s): Chemicals
Rapid and Efficient Detection and Identification of Pathogens and Proteins Using Nanoparticle-Fluorescent Polymer "Chemical Nose" Sensors
This technology uses a novel, "chemical nose" approach to the detection and identification of pathogens and proteins. Classes of gold nanoparticle-fluorescent polymer complexes are developed as selective receptors-reporters for pathogen or protein binding. These receptor-reporter constructs function by selective binding to analytes through unique surface interactions between analytes and nanoparticles, producing distinct fluorescence response patterns upon the displacement of the bound fluorescent polymers. These response patterns are quantitatively differentiated by linear discriminant analysis.
Published: 5/13/2013   |   Inventor(s): Uwe Bunz, Oscar Miranda, Ronnie Phillips, Vincent Rotello, Chang-Cheng You
Category(s): Chemicals, Devices & sensors, Nanotechnology