Bio-based acrylic acid process achieves milestone

Friday, 05 July, 2013


BASF, Cargill and Novozymes have successfully demonstrated the production of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) in pilot scale, a significant milestone in their partnership to develop technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials.

3-HP is a renewable-based building block and one possible chemical precursor to acrylic acid. The companies also have successfully established several technologies to dehydrate 3-HP to acrylic acid at lab scale. This step in the process is critical since it is the foundation for production of acrylic acid.

The three companies announced their joint agreement in August 2012 to develop a process for the conversion of renewable raw materials into a 100% bio-based acrylic acid.

“3-HP is a potential key raw material for the production of bio-based acrylic acid, which is a precursor of superabsorbent polymers,” said Teressa Szelest, Senior Vice President Global Hygiene Business at BASF. “We still have a fair amount of work to do before the process is commercially ready, but this is a significant milestone and we are confident we can continue to the next level of scale-up for the entire process in 2014.”

BASF is the world’s largest producer of acrylic acid and has substantial capabilities in its production and downstream processing. BASF plans initially to use the bio-based acrylic acid to manufacture superabsorbent polymers that can soak up large amounts of liquid. These polymers are predominantly used in nappies/diapers and other hygiene products. Presently, acrylic acid is produced by the oxidation of propylene derived from the refining of crude oil.

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