This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will investigate the synthesis and production of a new thermoplastic hydrogel (TPH). The TPH will be made by the modification of poly-2-ethyloxazoline, a commercially available polymer. The new TPH will have the properties of a crosslinked system when cold but will flow when heated. This property is unique for hydrogels, typically covalently crosslinked systems, which are limited in their use due to process restrictions. The TPH will have the ability to be extruded or molded by the end user into virtually any form, allowing the manufacture of new products that cannot be made today. The water soluble polymer is an ideal candidate due to its high thermal stability. This project will describe two routes for attaching graft polymers onto the polymer backbone. Both routes are viable from a high volume production standpoint.
Applications of the TPH would include: medical products (catheters, contact lenses, and synthetic wound dressings), adhesives, recyclable super absorbents, ink jet printer media, and a variety of agricultural materials.