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BASF, Cargill, Novozymes Closer to Bio-Based Acrylic Acid

BASF, Cargill and Novozymes have converted 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) to glacial acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers — a major step toward their joint development of technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials.

The companies say they have also selected the process for further scale-up.

BASF is the world’s largest producer of acrylic acid, a high-volume chemical that feeds into a broad range of products, including superabsorbent polymers that can soak up large amounts of liquid, used primarily for diapers and other hygiene products.

In 2012, BASF, Cargill and Novozymes partnered to develop a process for the conversion of renewable raw materials into bio-based acrylic acid.

A year later, the partners successfully demonstrated the production of 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), one possible precursor to acrylic acid, at pilot scale.

BASF initially plans to use the bio-based acrylic acid to manufacture superabsorbent polymers.

Together with the pilot plant for 3-HP, operated by Cargill and supported by Novozymes, this will further support BASF’s plans for fast market entry of superabsorbent polymers derived from bio-based acrylic acid.

Superabsorbent polymers and other products derived from bio-based acrylic acid will meet consumer and industry demand for consumer goods based on renewable raw materials and sustainable supply chains, the companies say.

Last week BASF announced it has developed a new process for steering its portfolio based on sustainability criteria.

The Sustainable Solution Steering method is used to systematically review and evaluate the sustainability aspects of the about 50,000 relevant product applications in the company’s portfolio, which represent sales of 56 billion euros ($72 billion).


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