QIBEBT Synthesizes Novel Polyurethane Hydrogel

Polyurethanes that could form hydrogel when contacted with water are of great interests for their plausible applications. It could be used as high-performance industrial materials and materials for medical treatment.

Figure 1. Polyurethane synthesized by Prof. Wan’s group (A); It forms emulsion when mixed with water (B); quickly forms hydrogel (C); which is self-supportive (D). (Image by Biomimetic and Biobased Polymer Group, QIBEBT) 

Especially, polyurethane hydrogels with strong mechanical strength and high water-absorption ratio may find their applications in soil-water conservation and desertification combating. Although the application studies of such material were reported, its domestic manufacturing has not been realized yet. 

CAS key Laboratory of Bio-based Materials at Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) have successfully solved this problem. By carefully tuning the structure of polyols and the density of the cross-linkable functional groups, professor WAN Xiaobo and his colleagues in Biomimetic and Biobased Polymer Group found a way to unify the high water-absorption ratio (up to 40:1 volumn ratio) and high compressive strength (up to 1.5 MPa) in one material, as shown in Figure 1. 

Prof. Wan’s group is currently working on to further improve the water-absorption ability, mechanical strength, and storage period of this polyurethane hydrogel. This material may find its niche in industrial applications since it is derived from inexpensive commercially available materials.  

Prof. WAN Xiaobo
Email: wanxb (AT)