Four different biorenewable methacrylated/acrylated monomers, namely, methacrylated fatty acid (MFA), methacrylated eugenol (ME), isobornyl methacrylate (IM), and isobornyl acrylate (IA) were employed as reactive diluents (RDs) to replace styrene (St) in a maleinated acrylated epoxidized soybean oil (MAESO) resin to produce bio-based thermosetting resins using free radical polymerization. The curing kinetics, gelation times, double bond conversions, thermal–mechanical properties, and thermal stabilities of MAESO-RD resin systems were characterized using DSC, rheometer, FT-IR, DMA, and TGA. The results indicate that all four RD monomers possess high bio-based carbon content (BBC) ranging from 63.2 to 76.9% and low volatilities (less than 7 wt% loss after being held isothermally at 30 °C for 5 h). Moreover, the viscosity of the MAESO-RD systems can be tailored to acceptable levels to fit the requirements for liquid molding techniques. Because of the introduction of RDs to the MAESO resin, the reaction mixtures showed an improved reactivity and an accelerated reaction rate. FT-IR results showed that almost all the C[double bond, length as m-dash]C double bonds within MAESO-RD systems were converted. The glass transition temperatures (Tg) of the MAESO-RDs ranged from 44.8 to 100.8 °C, thus extending the range of application. More importantly, the Tg of MAESO-ME resin (98.1 °C) was comparable to that of MAESO-St resin (100.8 °C). Overall, this work provided four potential RDs candidates to completely replace styrene in the MAESO resin, with the ME monomer being the most promising one.

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RSC Adv., 2018, 8, 13780-13788