Weijie Ji, Chak-Tong Au, and colleagues claim they discovered an environmentally friendly way to produce acrylic acid, which is used in the production of goods such as paint, diapers, adhesives and much more. The process eliminates the need for petroleum, which is extremely expensive and limited.
Global demand for the colorless liquid is estimated to be about 4 million tons per year. In an effort to keep overhead costs low, many manufacturers have been seeking alternative methods of making acrylic acid. The current alternatives are inefficient and require higher energy usage and are less selective.
The scientists’ method utilizes a new catalyst to convert lactic acid into acrylic acid more efficiently. Since lactic acid is a renewable material, produced by bacteria growing in vats of glucose and/or starch from plants, this process has the potential to reduce costs and environmental impact.
The entire report on the new catalyst for producing acrylic acid can be found in ACS Catalysis.