Slide NIPU-EJD , an H2020 Project NON-ISOCYANATE
Boosting the transition to a sustainable and green chemical industry on non-isocyanate polyurethanes (NIPUs)


NIPU-EJD is an European Joint Doctorate in “Synthesis, Characterization, Structure and Properties of Novel Non-Isocyanate Polyurethanes”. NIPU-EJD is formed by a consortium of 15 international research-performing institutions, from both the academic and non-academic sectors.

This consortium is collaborating in the achievement of common scientific/technological objectives and the creation of an innovative doctoral training programme for early-stage researchers (ESRs) endorsing research excellence, attractive institutional environment, interdisciplinary research options, exposure to industry and other relevant employment sectors, international networking, transferable skills training, and quality assurance.

Synthesis of novel higly reactive building block from renewable and/or CO2 feedstocks
Novel conceptual routes to high molar mass NIPU synthesis using (eco-friendly) catalysts
Sustainable polymerization by solvent-free reactive extrusion and aqueous polymerization
Validation of new NIPU formulations and materials (ex: 3D-printing, biocomposites).


The originality and innovative aspects of the NIPU-EJD programme focus in detail on:
Polyurethanes are among the most versatile plastic materials and are virtually ubiquitous. They are found in products such as the foams of mattresses and couches, in building insulation and in coatings and paints, to name just a few. Conventionally, polyurethanes are produced in a reaction relying on isocyanate molecules and polyols. However, growing evidence supports the potential health hazards of occupational exposure to isocyanates, and polyols are primarily derived from fossil fuels, although more and more renewable polyols reach the marked. The global vision of NIPU-EJD is to support innovation and entrepreneurship on the development of more sustainable, less hazardous Polyurethane systems that are produced without isocyanates from bio- and CO2-sourced monomers as high-performance and greenest alternatives to conventional Polyurethanes in highly demanded and emerging applications, such as rigid and flexible foams, coatings, elastomers, adhesives, vitrimers and 3D-printing.
NIPU-EJD will focus its research training programme on the emergence of highly skilled researchers having the necessary combination of scientific knowledge, technical and entrepreneurial skills to tackle two-pronged scientific challenge by the development of sustainable and safe non-isocyanate polyurethane (NIPU) systems. For this purpose, our highly application-oriented research training programme merges the great potential of innovative NIPU chemistry and materials with the principles of green chemistry. Herein, we envision an effective response to economic, ecologic and societal-driven challenges, while exploiting local and renewable feedstocks available such as fatty acids and developing green processes and applications with reduced carbon footprint that Europe must urgently address in the next decade. The global environmental impact of the NIPU systems and their end-life scenario will be also assessed with LCA modelling.
Our NIPU-EJD programme is investing in the sustainability of applied polymer chemistry and materials in exceptionally strategic and cutting-edge technologies. In Horizon 2020, the EC has recognized Sustainable Chemistry as an urgent Societal Challenge with implications across areas such as climate change, energy transition, high performance materials, bio-economy, health, and transport. As key Horizon 2020 objectives, sustainable development is relevant to all areas of the programme. In the recent communication on the European Green Deal, the EC committed to the adoption of a new Circular Economy Action plan, to accelerate and continue the transition towards a circular economy.
NIPU-EJD will create and reinforce sustainable synergies in a good balance between Universities and Industrials working on forefront research activities in adequacy with the current and future societal challenges in academia and PU industry. All the ESRs will carry out individual research projects in the realm of NIPUs under a stimulating joint supervision by two top-talented professors from two leading EU Universities in order to guarantee the robustness of their investigations. In addition, NIPU-EJD offers intersectoral secondment opportunities in renowned partners organizations with industrial leaders in PU to ensure that the ESRs benefit from application-oriented scientific cooperation and complementary knowledge and skills from industrial prospective while experiencing the “life” of the private sector and to gain insight into the business world. The 12 ESRs will have the opportunity of being awarded with joint or double doctoral degrees from two EU Universities. The 7 participating Universities have excellent reputations in awarding PhDs in Chemical, Polymer and Material Science. All the Academic beneficiaries have agreed to establish a joint governing structure by unifying the selection, recruitment, monitoring and awarding processes of the joint or double doctoral degree.


NIPU-EJD objectives

The NIPU-EJD training objectives will include research and transferable skill developments. Four different mechanisms will be implemented to deliver the two different types of skills, that are:

  1. hands on training through the PhD project;
  2. local training available via host organisation;
  3. training through secondments; and
  4. training delivered at the networkwide events.

The overall NIPU training objectives (TO) are:

Provide the ESRs with an unique and essential set of research skills on sustainable chemistry and engineering within a network combining an interdisciplinary, international and intersectoral environment. In particular, the will have the knowledge for advancing the boundaries of frontier research in organic chemistry, green chemistry, catalysis, polymer engineering, 3D-printing, renewable products, polymer latexes, coatings, adhesives, foams, vitrimers and composites, each directly related to current challenges in NIPU technology.
Provide the ESRs with complementary research training through academic and non-academic secondments. They will be exposed to both specialized and contrasting state-of-the-art lab equipment, industrial production facilities and customers.

Deliver a solid training in transferable skills that will include scientific writing, open science, effective communication, IPR, patenting, project management, technology transfer and exploitation.

Enhance their future research career prospects for their consolidation into competitive EU research institutions and world-class EU companies.