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BASF, Cargill and Novozymes achieve milestone in bio-based acrylic acid

BASF, Cargill and Novozymes have demonstrated the successful conversion of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), to glacial acrylic acid and super-absorbent polymers, marking another milestone in their joint development of technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials. The team has selected the process for further scale-up.

In August 2012, BASF, Cargill and Novozymes announced their joint agreement to develop a process for the conversion of renewable raw materials into bio-based acrylic acid. In July 2013, the partners successfully demonstrated the production of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), one possible precursor to acrylic acid, at pilot scale.

BASF initially plans to use the bio-based acrylic acid to manufacture super-absorbent polymers. Currently, acrylic acid is produced by the oxidation of propylene derived mainly from the refining of crude oil.

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.

—Teressa Szelest, Senior Vice President 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 super-absorbent polymers derived from bio-based acrylic acid.

Super-absorbent 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 super-absorbent polymers that can soak up large amounts of liquid, used primarily for diapers and other hygiene products.

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