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SAP will now be produced from renewable raw materials
A collaboration of BASF, Cargill and Novozymes has achieved another milestone in development of technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials.
Besides selecting the appropriate technology for further scale-up, the team has successfully converted 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), to glacial acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers.
Currently, acrylic acid is produced by the oxidation of propylene derived mainly from the refining of crude oil.
BASF, Cargill and Novozymes had joined hands earlier in August 2012, to develop a process for the conversion of renewable raw materials into bio-based acrylic acid.
In July 2013, they successfully demonstrated the production of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), one possible precursor to acrylic acid on a pilot scale.
BASF initially plans to use the bio-based acrylic acid to manufacture superabsorbent polymers (SAP), which are polymers that can absorb and retain extremely large amounts of a liquid relative to their own mass.
The biggest consumption of SAP is found in personal disposable hygiene products like baby diapers, adult incontinence products and sanitary napkins.
“After just 18 months we have selected the preferred process to convert 3-HP into glacial acrylic acid. Now we are working full force on the set-up of a small integrated pilot plant until the end of this year,” said Teressa Szelest, Sr VP - Global Hygiene Business at BASF.
Together with the pilot plant for 3-HP, operated by Cargill and supported by Novozymes, this will further support BASF’s plans for fast market entry of superabsorbent polymers derived from bio-based acrylic acid.
Kristian Bjørneboe at Novozymes said, “We are refining and pursuing options on how to move quickly towards commercial scale production of 3-HP to acrylic acid to meet market demands for consumer goods based on renewable raw materials.”
“Cargill came together with BASF and Novozymes to do what had not been done ever before. We have been working together for less than two years and we have made great progress toward our common goal,” said Jack Staloch Vice President of R&D at Cargill. ”
He added, “It’s a great example of what can be accomplished when industry leaders with unique expertise in biotechnology and chemistry come together to create new innovations.”
Superabsorbent polymers and other products derived from bio-based acrylic acid will be an innovative offer to the market and will meet consumer and industry demand for consumer goods based on renewable raw materials and sustainable supply chains.
BASF is the world’s largest producer of acrylic acid, a high-volume chemical that feeds into a broad range of products, including superabsorbent polymers. (AR)