05/24/2011 | Editor: Dominik Stephan
Dow and Opxbio recently signed a joint development agreement to prove the technical and economic viability of an industrial-scale process to produce acrylic acid using a fermentable sugar (such as corn and/or cane sugar) feedstock with equal performance qualities as petroleum-based acrylic acid, creating a direct replacement option for the market.
Midland/Michigan & Boulder/Colorado, USA – Dow, a global producer of acrylic acid and esters, will provide its expertise in industrial chemistry, process optimization and product development. Opxbio, a company that uses biotechnology to convert renewable raw materials into biochemicals and fuels, will contribute its expertise in strain development and bioprocessing utilizing its EDGE (Efficiency Directed Genome Engineering) technology. If collaborative research is successful, the companies will discuss commercialization opportunities that could bring bio-based acrylic acid to market in three to five years.
“At Dow, we engage in collaborations that foster and drive innovations that lead us to breakthroughs throughout all areas of our Company,” said Monty Bayer, global business director, Dow Ventures & Business Development. “Dow and OPXBIO have strong technical synergies and discovering and capitalizing on those synergies is one avenue to develop and bring innovative and sustainable solutions to the market.”
The global petroleum-based acrylic acid market is $8 billion and growing 3 to 4 percent per year. Acrylic acid is a key chemical used in a wide range of consumer goods including paints, adhesives, diapers and detergents. “Dow is interested in bio-based products that are economically competitive to petrochemical-based products with equal or advantaged performance qualities,” said Pat Gottschalk, business director and vice president, Dow Performance Monomers.
During an 18-month pilot-scale program Opxbio demonstrated that it's Edge technology enables the manufacture of acrylic acid using renewable feedstock, the company says. A life cycle analysis conducted by Symbiotic Engineering, a greenhouse gas and sustainability consultant, concluded that Opxbio’s production process can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70 percent compared to traditional petroleum-based acrylic acid production.
“Together with Dow, we aim to deliver bio-based acrylic acid to the market that is cost-competitive and more sustainable,” said Charles R. Eggert, president and chief executive officer of Opxbio. “Building on our own successful pilot-scale development and leveraging Dow’s chemical processing and purification expertise will enable us to accelerate demonstration-scale activities and validate the performance of a bio-based acrylic acid in multiple applications.”
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