Catalyst Creates Bio-Based Plastics, Chemicals

First Posted: Dec 15, 2015 01:17 PM EST

Researchers have created a new catalyst that can easily convert bio-based ethanol into an industrial chemical. This new development paves the way for eco-friendly bio-based plastics and materials to be generated, according to a study at Washington State University.

The researchers' new catalyst works with bio-based ethanol, to create a chemical known as isobutene, which are used in plastics and plastic products. Isobutene has been used in a wide range of products including plastic bottles and rubber tires - through superheating crude oil.

However, the Washington State University researchers collaborated with the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Company where they created a catalyst to convert bio-based ethanol to isobutene through a simple technique. The bio-based ethanol is made from corn and other biomass.

The researchers evaluated the uses and applications of their catalyst and they found that it works quite well and their work can be used in the future to develop catalysts that are more efficient, where they could be used in a wide range of applications.

"This is one example that shows the benefits of closely linking the practical and fundamental aspects of research to develop scalable and commercially practical catalysts for applications of importance to industries,'' Yong Wang, coauthor of the study and Biochemical Engineering Professor at WSU, said in a news release.  

The findings of this study were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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