This project is a limited scope research effort to demonstrate the feasibility of converting building block chemicals readily available from biomass sources into sustainable degreasing solvents for cold cleaning operations. Solvents developed through this approach will be compliant with future air quality standards (low levels of volatile organic compounds), biodegradable, non-toxic, and will have low global warming potential (carbon neutral).

Technical Approach

High volume, platform chemicals derived from carbohydrates will be converted by chemical synthesis into a variety of furanic solvents. These solvents will be tested for physical properties important to any new degreasing technology including evaporation rate, flashpoint, boiling point, etc.  The solvents will be further evaluated based on their ability to degrease standard metal cartridge bearings. The collected data will allow for conclusions to be drawn about structure property relationships.  In addition, a preliminary toxicity study of the solvents against V. fischeri will be conducted.


Collecting data on these solvents will help further the understanding of structure function relationships in materials research. Using chemicals obtained from biomass will result in a reduced net carbon footprint for the Department of Defense (DoD). In addition, it may be possible to produce these solvents less expensively than current technologies, thus lowering costs associated with degreasing operations at DoD facilities. Using chemicals derived from domestic biomass also reduces the nation’s dependence on foreign sources of petroleum and related products. Finding alternate uses for agricultural waste products may lead to new domestic industries and job creation.

Tapping into sustainable plant-based resources will result in reduced net carbon emissions while solvent design has the potential to result in solvents that readily biodegrade to innocuous by-products. Use of less toxic compounds will help the DoD maintain compliance with environmental standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state and local laws. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2016)