Bio-based Acrylics from Lactic Acid at Cost-parity to Petrochemicals

Today, acrylic acid is produced as a petrochemical through refining of petroleum to propylene, followed by oxidation to acrylic acid. Among the products utilizing the 6.5MMTA of acrylic acid synthesized each year ($10B market) are superabsorbent polymers (diapers), latex paints, many coatings, almost all adhesives, and a host of other applications in today’s modern world.

This catalyst innovation is the first in 80 years to hit the long-known 90 percent yield commercialization barrier for lactic-to-acrylic. The goal is to achieve cost parity to today’s petrochemical process while saving at least 35 percent CO2 emissions, thereby enabling sustainability in a $10B, 6.5MMTA market. This project will utilize Argonne’s MERF and leverage a pilot-scale bioreactor to further develop the separations process as well as analytical equipment.