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ADM, LG Chem to develop technology for super-absorbent biobased polymers

US-headed Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers and South Korean-headed LG Chem Ltd have announced a joint development agreement (JDA) to create biobased acrylic acid, a foundational element required in the manufacture of superabsorbent polymers (SAP) used in a range of hygiene products, including diapers.

North American headquarters for Archer Daniels Midland Company (photo courtesy ADM).

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) and South Korean-headed LG Chem Ltd have announced a joint development agreement (JDA) to create biobased acrylic acid, a foundational element required in the manufacture of superabsorbent polymers (SAP) used in a range of hygiene products, including diapers (photo courtesy ADM).

LG Chem Ltd is Korea’s largest diversified chemical company that operates four main business units: Petrochemicals, Energy Solution, Advanced Materials, Life Sciences. The chemical business manufactures a wide range of products, from petrochemical goods to high-value-added plastics.

It also extends its chemical expertise into high-tech areas such as rechargeable batteries – LG Chem is also one of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturers with a significant market share in consumer, automotive and stationary applications – electronic materials, and pharmaceuticals.

The acrylic acid project is another effort from ADM to create new sustainable materials from renewable resources and demonstrates our strong commitment to supporting customer demand through innovation. By tackling this challenge with LG Chem, we can leverage the strengths and expertise of both companies to bring a cost-effective, sustainable solution to our customers, said Dr Todd Werpy, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at ADM.

Develop 100 percent biobased acrylic acid production

Under the terms of this agreement, ADM and LG Chem Ltd, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of acrylic acid, will work jointly towards economically viable commercial production of a 100 percent biobased acrylic acid using ingredients from ADM corn processing.

This joint development agreement with ADM has enabled LG Chem to further expand our business portfolio with eco-friendly products that can achieve sustainable growth. We are excited to drive research and development of sustainable materials based on bioresources, along with our advanced strengths in conventional petrochemicals business, said Okdong Son, President of LG Chem.

Although there is a growing industry demand for products developed from renewable materials, acrylic acid is currently produced almost exclusively from petrochemicals. To support production, LG Chem plans to review the construction of a bio-SAP production plant in North America and to explore additional bioplastic business opportunities.

As customers focus more and more on sustainable alternatives, ADM is looking to continually push the envelope and find new ways to diversify our product mix. We currently produce about 30 different products from a kernel of corn, and we’re eager to explore the possibilities provided through biobased acrylic acid, said Chris Cuddy, President, Carbohydrate Solutions for ADM.

In 2018, ADM and DuPont opened the world’s first production facility for biobased furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME). Using ingredients from ADM corn processing, FDME is a product that both extends product shelf life and reduces the amount of plastic needed in carbonated beverage packaging.

In response to consumer demand for environmentally responsible products, many consumer packaged goods companies have committed to more sustainable packaging, including the use of biobased materials.

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