From: DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Published December 12, 2017 12:35 PM

NREL Develops Novel Method to Produce Renewable Acrylonitrile

A new study from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) establishes a novel catalytic method to produce renewable acrylonitrile using 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), which can be biologically produced from sugars. This hybrid biological-catalytic process offers an alternative to the conventional petrochemical production method and achieves unprecedented acrylonitrile yields.

Acrylonitrile, a petroleum-derived commodity chemical, is one of the most widely used monomers in the chemical industry with many commercial applications. Today, acrylonitrile is used in the production of acrylic fibers for carpets, clothes, and fabrics, and in plastics such as food containers, and packaging materials. Most importantly for this project, acrylonitrile is also the primary building block in carbon fiber composites, which are used for lightweighting applications in automotive and air transportation. Acrylonitrile is produced today industrially via an energy-intensive and chemically hazardous process.

Propylene price volatility and environmental sustainability have motivated a search for alternative pathways using bio-derived feedstocks such as glycerol and glutamic acid. Yet none have been able to compete with the traditional process in terms of cost and yield. Now, new NREL research is showing promise toward achieving this goal.

Read more at DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Image: Pictured from left to right are Adam Bratis, Violeta Sànchez i Nogué, Todd Eaton, Gregg Beckham, Vassili Vorotnikov, and Eric Karp, part of the NREL team working on a cost-competitive, sustainable process for creating acrylonitrile and carbon fibers from renewable biomass. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

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