A team of researchers supported by the CSP and lead by Investigator Paul Dauenhauer have invented a groundbreaking new catalyst technology that converts renewable materials like trees and corn to the key chemicals, acrylic acid, and acrylates used in paints, coatings, and superabsorbent polymers. The new catalyst technology is also highly efficient, which means lower costs for manufacturing renewable chemicals.
The new catalyst formulation converts lactic acid-based chemicals derived from corn to acrylic acid and acrylates with the highest yield achieved to date. The technology exhibits substantially higher performance when benchmarked against other classes of leading catalysts. “Our new catalyst formulation discovery achieves the highest yield to date of acrylic acid from lactic acid,” said Paul Dauenhauer. “We benchmarked the performance of our new catalyst to all prior catalysts, and the performance far exceeds previous examples.” The research is published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society Gold (JACS Au), a leading open access journal of the American Chemical Society.
The economic opportunity generated by the new catalyst is being pursued by Låkril Technologies, a startup company launched in 2021 by Paul Dauenhauer and Chris Nicholas that aims to manufacture low-cost renewable acrylic acid and acrylates. By licensing the catalyst technology from the University of Minnesota, Låkril Technologies will develop the technology beyond the laboratory.