NDSU scientists have developed plant oil-based reactive diluents for coating and composite applications that possess both low viscosity and high reactive functionality. With these improved characteristics these plant oil-based materials eliminate or reduce the need to be blended with petrochemicals thereby increasing the bio-based content of the product which is environmentally more desirable. The fundamental aspect of the invention involves transesterification of a plant oil triglyceride with an alcohol that also contains at least one double bond. By completely replacing the glycerol component of the plant oil triglyceride with three equivalents of the unsaturated alcohol fatty acids esters are produced containing at least one double bond that is not derived from the parent plant oil. Depending on the application requirements a low-cost biobased unsaturated alcohol can be used to produce the reactive diluents of the invention.
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