Cargill and Novozymes have joined to develop a range of valuable chemical derivatives including acrylic acid from 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HPA) produced from sugar fermentation using bioengineered microorganisms. The US Dept. of Energy is also supporting the project with a $1.5m funding.
Acrylic acid is currently produced by the oxidation of propylene. The companies said half of the 3.1m tons of crude acrylic acid annually produced is used to make superabsorbents, which finds its way in personal care items such as diapers. Other uses include coatings, acrylic fibers, paints and inks.
Despite the R&D challenges, bio-acrylic acid could be ready within five years, according to both companies.