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 29, 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 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) An hour before an apparent gas explosion sent flames soaring and debris flying at a Manhattan apartment building, injuring 19 people, utility company inspectors decided the work being done there was faulty. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) Facebook on Thursday revealed more details about its Internet-connected drone project. The drone is bigger than a 737, but lighter than a car. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) The companion robot "Kirobo" returns to earth from the International Space Station and sets two Guinness World Records. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) Witnesses recount the sites and sounds of a massive explosion and subsequent building collapse in the heart of Manhattan&apos;s trendy East Village on Thursday. (March 26) Video provided by AP
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