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New catalyst could improve production of glass alternatives

Date:
August 21, 2012
Source:
University of Oregon
Summary:
Chemists have identified a catalyst that could dramatically reduce the amount of waste made in the production of methyl methacrylate, a monomer used in the large-scale manufacturing of lightweight, shatter-resistant alternatives to glass such as Plexiglas.

University of Oregon chemists have identified a catalyst that could dramatically reduce the amount of waste made in the production of methyl methacrylate, a monomer used in the large-scale manufacturing of lightweight, shatter-resistant alternatives to glass such as Plexiglas.

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David Tyler, Charles J. and M. Monteith Jacobs Professor of Chemistry, will present his findings August 21 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, Aug. 19-23 in Philadelphia, Penn.

Global production of methyl methacrylate was 4 million metric tons in 2010. Each kilogram produced also yields 2.5 kilograms of ammonium hydrogen sulfate, a corrosive byproduct that is not usable. Disposal of ammonium hydrogen sulfate is extremely energy intensive, consuming 2 percent of the energy used in Texas annually.

Tyler's team has identified a catalyst that doesn't produce ammonium hydrogen sulfate. The university is securing a provisional patent for the catalyst.

"There were some really fundamental chemical reasons why previous catalysts didn't work with this process," Tyler said. "We've found a catalyst that overcomes all of those objections."

With the identification of a working catalyst, Tyler will focus his research on how to accelerate the conversion to methyl methacrylate. The industrial standard for a practical catalyst is conversion of acetone cyanohydrin into methyl methacrylate in the span of a minute or two, Tyler said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oregon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Oregon. "New catalyst could improve production of glass alternatives." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821143911.htm>.
University of Oregon. (2012, August 21). New catalyst could improve production of glass alternatives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821143911.htm
University of Oregon. "New catalyst could improve production of glass alternatives." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821143911.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

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