Nanotech 2010

Catalytic Conversion of Waste Carbon Monoxide to Valuable Chemicals & Materials

M. Slowik
Novomer, US

Keywords: green chemistry, green feedstocks, carbon sequestration


Novomer has developed a novel catalyst system that allows waste carbon monoxide (CO) and ethylene oxide (EO) to react and form useful plastics and chemical intermediates for large market opportunities. Over 2 billion metric tons of waste CO is generated globally by the steel industry, from hydrogen production, and through coal gasification. Much of this is burned as a low grade fuel which creates CO2. Novomer will react the waste CO with ethylene oxide, a top 15 globally produced organic chemical, to form propiolactone which is then processed to a final product. The Polymer synthesized from this process is called poly(propiolactone) (PPL) and is considered by some experts to be the ‘holy grail’ of polymers. The polymer is similar to PET but is biodegradable and has been shown to have superior toughness and barrier performance properties. Novomer’s catalyst can also form acrylic acid and tetrahydrofuran (THF) from waste CO. These are two chemical intermediates of great value to the chemicals industry. The former is used to make superabsorbent polymers for disposable diapers and as additives for paints and coatings. The latter is used to make spandex and as a solvent.
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