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.

Related Articles


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 March 5, 2015 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 March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Did the Simpsons Figure out the Higgs Boson Particle Years Before Scientists

Did the Simpsons Figure out the Higgs Boson Particle Years Before Scientists

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) During a 1998 Simpsons episode, Homer Simpson scribbled a seemingly gibberish equation on a chalkboard. Turns out that equation is a shake off from predicting the actual nano mass of the God Particle. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Wearables Now the Must-Haveables

Wearables Now the Must-Haveables

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 3, 2015) Telecom company executives are meeting in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, the largest annual trade show for the wireless industry. As Ivor Bennett reports from the show wearable technology is one of the big themes. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Forensic Holodeck Creates 3D Crime Scenes

Forensic Holodeck Creates 3D Crime Scenes

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 3, 2015) A holodeck is no longer the preserve of TV sci-fi classic Star Trek, thanks to researchers from the Institute of Forensic Medicine Zurich, who have created what they say is the first system in the world to visualise the 3D data of forensic scans. Jim Drury saw it in operation. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Plane Passes New Test Ahead of World Tour

Solar Plane Passes New Test Ahead of World Tour

AFP (Mar. 2, 2015) A solar-powered plane made a third successful test flight in the United Arab Emirates on Monday ahead of a planned round-the-world tour to promote alternative energy. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
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