A team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities invented a more efficient catalyst technology that converts renewable materials like corn into acyclic acid and acrylates. This groundbreaking new catalyst technology is paving the way for more affordable renewable materials.
Why This Discovery Is Groundbreaking
Innovations in the sustainable production of renewable materials to reduce our impact on the environment are essential for the future of the world. The use of corn to produce renewable products is one way these innovations are being achieved. Lactic acid is the key ingredient in the production of renewable and compostable plastics and can be naturally derived from corn. Using a catalyst, lactic acid can then be converted into acrylic acid and acrylates.
Acrylic acid and acrylates are the building blocks of many industrial and consumer materials that include adhesives, coatings, and absorbents. Everyday products that use these materials include diapers, paints, and coatings. The high demand and production volume of these chemicals make it highly desirable to attain a sustainable manufacturing process.
The traditional method of producing acrylic acid and acrylates is achieved through a biobased synthetic route using fossil fuels. Other attempts at using catalysts to produce renewable materials resulted in low yields and efficiency.
By improving yields and reducing waste in the process, this new catalyst technology has the potential to substantially reduce the manufacturing costs of acrylic acid and acrylates from corn. The technology is based on a class of catalysts called zeolites. Since these catalysts are already available at scale, the process can achieve low costs and risks for chemical manufacturers. For the first time in history, this could create renewable chemicals that are cheaper to produce than fossil fuel-derived chemicals.
Director of the Center for Sustainable Materials and a chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota says, ” This is a wonderful example of how addressing important basic research questions that are at the heart of fundamental catalysis can lead to innovative new processes that have true technological promise. A grand challenge in the Center for Sustainable Polymers is the efficient and sustainable conversion of biomass to polymer ingredients, and this work represents a groundbreaking solution to that challenge that will have a lasting impact.”
Committed to Sustainability
At Noah Chemicals, we enable the greatest innovations and are committed to environmental sustainability. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our Chemical Services team and learn more about how sustainable chemical production can be a fundamental aspect of your company.