Introducing: Glucaric acid

Here’s another green chemistry company start-up to add to my list.

I received an email about Missoula, Montana-based Rivertop Renewables who is developing glucaric acid, a sugar-based acid created by oxidizing glucose which can be used as a building block chemical.

According to the company, the US Department of Energy recognized glucaric acid as one of the top “twelve building block chemicals” that can be subsequently converted to a number of high-value bio-based chemicals or materials.

The markets for glucaric acid derivatives such as glucarates and lactones are said to be undeveloped as they are expensive and the supply has been limited, with most being use for research or as a health supplement ingredient.

Rivertop Renewables said that they were able to develop a scalable, cost-effective and safe glucaric acid production technology based on 10 years of research that started at the University of Montana. Early markets for their product include, among others, detergents (as a builder to replace phosphates), diapers (increasing its biodegradability), road salt deicers (as corrosion inhibitors); and as concrete admixtures.

The company says replacing phosphates in detergents alone represents a $9 billion market opportunity.To produce the acid, the company is using a proprietary oxidation technology.

“We refined the oxidation of nitric acid into a catalytic process that reduces the amount of needed nitric acid, minimizes the production of waste, and increases the yield of valuable end-use products,” says Don Kiely founder and chairman. “The oxidation platform is adaptable to feedstocks beyond glucose such as sucrose and xylose.”

Rivertop Renewables was established in January 2008 as a spin-off company from the University of Montana. Aside from glucaric acid, the company is also looking at xylaric, arabinaric and mannaric acids, which are derived from sugars extracted exclusively from woody biomass feedstocks, to make a range of bioproducts and novel polymers.

The company is in the midst of their first round of funding of $1.4 million, and said to be in talks with major manufacturers that can make and distribute their chemicals at low cost.

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One Response to Introducing: Glucaric acid

  1. Shiela 18 November, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    Great work for all, start ups today or the microsofts of the future.

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