Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Corn Yields Another Useful Product: Polypropylene Glycol

Date:
November 26, 2001
Source:
University Of Wisconsin, Madison
Summary:
An industrial chemical found in antifreeze, de-icing fluids, and liquid detergents could soon stand alongside animal feeds, sweeteners and cooking oil as a commercial product made from corn.

MADISON -- An industrial chemical found in antifreeze, de-icing fluids, and liquid detergents could soon stand alongside animal feeds, sweeteners and cooking oil as a commercial product made from corn.

Randy Cortright and James Dumesic, chemical engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have invented a catalytic process for converting the corn-derived compound, lactic acid, into the chemical polypropylene glycol. More than 450 tons of polypropylene glycol are used in the United States annually.

Unlike current processes for manufacturing polypropylene glycol, which make use of petroleum-based starting materials, this advance taps into a low cost, renewable resource available in surplus right now. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that over a billion bushels of corn went unused last year.

"This [technology] provides a sustainable method of producing important chemicals," Cortright says. It also promises to reduce reliance on imported oil and open new markets for U.S.-grown corn.

A chain of processes links corn to polypropylene glycol. It begins with fermentation of the corn-derived sugar glucose into lactic acid, followed by separation and purification of the acid. Cortright and Dumesic's method completes the critical last step by using a copper catalyst in the presence of hydrogen gas to chemically transform lactic acid into polypropylene glycol.

The approach is more cost-efficient than past methods, Cortright says. "We're using a relatively inexpensive metal, running the reaction at lower [hydrogen] pressure and we get 100 percent conversion," of the lactic acid, with fewer unwanted byproducts like alcohols.

Cortright and Dumesic's research builds upon the work of Homer Adkins, a UW-Madison chemistry professor from 1919-49. At a time when most chemicals were produced from agricultural products rather than oil, Cortright says, Adkins was the first to use copper catalysts to turn lactic acid into propylene glycol. "It feels like we've come full circle," Cortright says, "We enhanced the technology, but the basic ideas were known 70 years ago."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wisconsin, Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wisconsin, Madison. "Corn Yields Another Useful Product: Polypropylene Glycol." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011120051947.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin, Madison. (2001, November 26). Corn Yields Another Useful Product: Polypropylene Glycol. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011120051947.htm
University Of Wisconsin, Madison. "Corn Yields Another Useful Product: Polypropylene Glycol." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011120051947.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins