The development of high-performance bio-based polyimides (PIs) seems a difficult task due to the incompatibility between petrochemical-derived, aromatic monomers and renewable, natural resources. Moreover, their production usually implies less eco-friendly experimental conditions, especially in terms of solvents and thermal conditions. In this chapter, we touch some of the most significant research endeavors that were devoted in the last decade to engineering naturally derived PI building blocks based on nontoxic, bio-renewable feedstocks. In most cases, the structural motifs of natural products are modified toward amine functionalities that are then used in classical or nonconventional methods for PI synthesis. We follow their evolution as viable alternatives to traditional starting compounds and prove they are able to generate eco-friendly PI materials that retain a combination of high-performance characteristics, or even bring some novel, enhanced features to the field. At the same time, serious progress has been made in the field of nonconventional synthetic and processing options for the development of PI-based materials. Greener experimental conditions such as ionic liquids, supercritical fluids, microwaves, and geothermal techniques represent feasible routes and reduce the negative environmental footprint of PIs’ development. We also approach some insights regarding the sustainability, degradation, and recycling of PI-based materials.
Part of the book: Polyimide for Electronic and Electrical Engineering Applications