Cargill, IFPEN and Axens collaborate to advance lactic-to-acrylic-acid technology – Chemical Engineering


Cargill, IFPEN and Axens collaborate to advance lactic-to-acrylic-acid technology - Chemical Engineering

By Gerald Ondrey |

Cargill Inc. (Wayzata, Minn.), IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) and Axens (both Rueil-Malmason, France) are joining forces to further develop and scale bio-based acrylic acid. The collaboration leverages Cargill’s experience with bio-based materials, IFPEN’s expertise in the field of catalyst and bioprocess development, and Axens’ catalyst manufacturing and industrial scale-up design process to commercialize the Procter & Gamble (P&G) company’s lactic-to-acrylic-acid technology, which Cargill licensed in earlier this year.

“More than 6 million tons of petro-based acrylic acid will be produced this year,” says Dr. Jill Zullo, vice president of Biointermediates in Cargill’s Bioindustrial business. “By leveraging Cargill’s processing technology and IFPEN/Axens’ know-how in catalysis and scale up, we’re aiming to produce acrylic acid from renewable sources thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50%.”

Since Cargill’s award-winning lactic acid technology is already commercially proven, efforts will focus on the catalyst and process development needed to convert lactic acid into bio-based acrylic acid at scale — expertise for which IFPEN and Axens are world renowned. Bio-based acrylic acid can be used in a variety of applications, from hygiene products to household paints, delivering more sustainable solutions on a wide range of consumer products.

“We’re thrilled to be working with IFPEN and Axens. Given their mutual commitment to furthering the bio-economy and demonstrated capabilities in catalysis and commercial scale up, we knew they were the right partners for this important project,” says Asheesh Choudhary, global business development director for Cargill’s Bioindustrial business.

“We firmly believe that the combined expertise of the three partners, which includes our recognized experience in the field of bio-products, represents the strength of this project,” explains Jean-Pierre Burzynski, director of the Process Business Unit at IFPEN.

Pierre Beccat, EVP Technology Development and Innovation at Axens adds: “We are very proud to be associated to Cargill and IFPEN to develop a solution in the field of bio-products thus bolstering Axens’ ambition to be a major player in the bio-economy. The technology was developed in P&G’s corporate laboratories and Axens is very excited to develop it to an industrial scale as this technology could have a significant impact on the marketplace.”

The companies are advancing the technology according to staged milestones. Although it will be several years before it is ready to be deployed at commercial scale, test samples could be ready for potential customers sometime within the next 12 months. 


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