PolyTHF is a hygroscopic polymer made up of linear diols with a backbone of repeating tetramethylene units connected by ether linkages. The chains are capped with primary hydroxyl units and are produced by polymerizing tetrahydrofuran. It is a white solid that melts into a clear, colorless liquid when heated to between -15° and 30°C, depending on its molecular weight. PolyTHF is especially beneficial when used as a building block for soft segment elastomers such as polyurethanes, co-polyetheresters and co-polyetheramides. Its hydroxyl groups react with other functional groups such as organic acids or isocyanates. The most significant reactions are polyaddition and polycondensation.
"The bio-based PolyTHF 1000 is identical in quality to the petrochemical-based product," said Andrej Brejc, Director, Renewable Diols, from BASF's Intermediates Division. "The opportunity to expand the range of products and applications made from renewable raw materials allows us and our partners to further explore the long-term market acceptance of this innovative technology."
PolyTHF is derived from 1,4 butanediol (BDO), which BASF has produced under license from Genomatica. BASF began production of 1,4-butanediol based on renewable feedstock using Genomatica's patented one-step fermentation process, based on sugars.
BASF is the world's leading provider of PolyTHF. It is primarily used to make elastic Spandex fibers for a large variety of textiles, including underwear, outerwear, sportswear and swimsuits. PolyTHF 1000 is mainly applied as a chemical building block for thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which is used to make parts of ski boots and skates, shoe soles and instrument-panel skin for automotive applications as well as hoses, films and cable sheathing. It is also used as a component of thermoplastic polyetheresters and polyetheramides. Other applications include cast elastomers, which are used, for example, for the production of wheels for skateboards and inline skates.