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BASF exits bio-acrylic acid partnership with Novozymes and Cargill

Chemical giant BASF has decided to exit the R&D collaboration with Novozymes and Cargill it entered into in August 2012 to develop a biobased process for producing 3-hydroxypropionic (3-HP) and acrylic acid from renewable raw materials. Germany-based BASF is the world´s largest producer of oil-based acrylic acid and has substantial capabilities in its production and downstream processing. The company originally joined the collaboration in order to develop a product able to meet market and society needs more sustainably.

Novozymes and Cargill have collaborated on the project since 2008 and will continue their work to commercialize biobased 3-HP and derivatives. Meanwhile, they have initiated efforts to find a new commercialization partner.

"We are continuing our work with Novozymes to commercialize 3-HP to bio-based chemicals, including acrylic acid to bring our customers more sustainable alternatives to fossil-based chemicals," commented Cargill's VP of Research and Development Jack Staloch.

The R&D partnership on biobased acrylic acid has achieved the technical and business targets, according to the companies. In 2013, the project accomplished the production of 3-HP in pilot scale, and in September 2014 announced the successful conversion of 3-HP to glacial acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers. Kristian Bjørneboe, VP for Business Creation and Acquisition at Novozymes, referred to these efforts as "pioneering biochemical research." 

"The technology development and achievements so far have been extraordinary," he said.

Acrylic acid is a high-volume chemical that feeds into a broad range of products. One of the main applications is in the manufacture of superabsorbent polymers that can soak up large amounts of liquid and are used mainly in baby diapers and other hygiene products. Acrylic acid is also used in adhesive raw materials and coatings. Presently, acrylic acid is produced by the oxidation of propylene derived from the refining of crude oil. 

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