By Nick Gilbert
BASF, Novozymes and Cargill have entered into a contract to develop bio-based technologies to synthesize acrylic acid using renewable raw materials. Acrylic acid is currently synthesized by oxidizing propylene produced from crude oil refining.
Novozymes, a company specializing in industrial enzymes with vast knowledge acquired through the development of technologies to produce bio-based chemicals, has been working on renewable acrylic acid technology with Cargill since 2008. Both firms have been involved in the development of microorganisms that are capable of producing 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) from renewable feedstock. 3-HP is one potential chemical precursor for the synthesis of acrylic acid.
BASF has now teamed up with Novozymes and Cargill to develop a process for production of acrylic acid from 3-HP. BASF is the largest manufacturer of acrylic acid in the world and has sizeable production and downstream processing capabilities for acrylic acid. The company intends to utilize the bio-based acrylic acid initially for the production of superabsorbent polymers.
BASF’s Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Michael Heinz stated that the collaboration integrates BASF’s innovation power and worldwide market strength with expertise of Cargill and Novozymes. Collectively, the collaboration can more sustainably fulfill market and society requirements.
Cargill’s Corporate Vice President of Research and Development, Chris Mallett stated that the company is happy to bring its know-how in procuring renewable raw materials and industrial scale fermentation to this project.
Novozymes’ Chief Executive Officer, Steen Riisgaard commented that the companies are taking a giant step to realize a more sustainable economy by offering bio-based substitutes to fossil-based products.