Catalyst Discovered for Renewable Paints, Coatings


A new groundbreaking catalyst for converting materials has recently been invented by researchers at the University of Minnesota.

According to a press release issued by the university, the catalyst can efficiently convert resources like trees and corn into the key chemicals acrylic acid and acrylates used in paints, coatings and superabsorbent polymers.

The research team was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation through the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers, a multi-university collaborative team with a mission to transform how plastics are made, unmade and remade through innovative research.

“This is a wonderful example of how addressing important basic research questions that are at the heart of fundamental catalysis can lead to innovative new processes that have true technological promise,” said Marc Hillmyer, director of the Center for Sustainable Polymers and a professor in the College of Science and Engineering.

“A grand challenge in the Center for Sustainable Polymers is the efficient and sustainable conversion of biomass to polymer ingredients, and this work represents a groundbreaking solution to that challenge that will have lasting impact.”

In what reportedly achieves the highest yield to date, researchers have developed a catalyst to use lactic acid-based chemicals derived from corn and convert the materials into acrylic acid. These types of materials, along with other associated acrylates, are best known for their uses in paints, coatings, adhesives and other everyday items.

Prior to the research conducted at the University of Minnesota, many of the chemicals and materials were created from fossil fuels. However, with the expansion of the corn industry, new environmentally friendly formulations are being created that result in the same product.

In its study, the team notes that the new catalyst formulation substantially reduces the cost of manufacturing renewable acrylic acid and acrylates from corn by improving yield and reducing waste.

“Our new catalyst formulation discovery achieves the highest yield to date of acrylic acid from lactic acid,” said Paul Dauenhauer, a professor in the U of M College of Science and Engineering. “We benchmarked the performance of our new catalyst to all prior catalysts, and the performance far exceeds previous examples.”

Moving forward, researchers involved in the study are planning to continue their basic research on catalyst design to understand the fundamental aspects of chemistry with financial support from the Center for Sustainable Polymers. If brought to fruition, it is believed that the formulation could reduce costs for manufacturing renewable materials.

The research has since been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society Gold.


Tagged categories: Acrylate; Acrylic; Asia Pacific; Coating chemistry; Coating Materials - Commercial; Coatings Technology; Colleges and Universities; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Good Technical Practice; Latin America; North America; Polymers; Research and development; Z-Continents

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