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BASF, Cargill, Novozymes join hands for cleantech initiative in India

According to reports, global agro chemical and enzymes companies, BASF of Germany, Cargill of USA and the Danish company, Novozymes, have joined hands for a green initiative—producing acrylic acid from renewable raw materials.

Acrylic acid is a high-volume chemical that feeds into a broad range of products. One of the main applications is in the manufacture of super-absorbent polymers that can soak up large amounts of liquid and are used mainly in baby diapers and other hygiene products. The acid is also used in adhesive raw materials and coatings. The annual global market volume of acrylic acid is around 4.5 million tonnes with a value of $11 billion at the end of 2011. The market has been growing at a rate of 4 per cent per year.

At present, acrylic acid is produced by the oxidation of propylene derived from the refining of crude oil. BASF – The Chemical Company, Cargill and industrial biotechnology company Novozymes will develop bio-based technologies to produce acrylic acid from renewable feedstocks.

All the three companies have operations in India. BASF India is a listed company and has recently announced Rs 1,000-crore investment in a greenfield facility at Dahej, Gujarat.

There is a pretty good fit for the three companies in the joint initiative, with each company bringing in its strengths to the table. BASF is the world´s largest producer of acrylic acid and has substantial capabilities in its production and downstream processing.

Novozymes and Cargill have already been in collaboration for renewable acrylic acid. They have worked towards developing micro-organisms that can convert renewable feedstock into an acid called ‘3-hydroxypropionic acid, or 3-HP, which is a precursor to acrylic acid. Novozymes knows enzymes well and Cargill is an expert in large-scale fermentation.

BASF plans initially to use the bio-based acrylic acid to manufacture super-absorbent polymers, the German company said in a recent press release.

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