New catalyst could improve production of glass alternatives

August 21, 2012
UO chemists' catalyst could improve production of glass alternatives

( -- University of Oregon chemists have identified a catalyst that could dramatically reduce the amount of waste made in the production of methyl methacrylate, a monomer used in the large-scale manufacturing of lightweight, shatter-resistant alternatives to glass such as Plexiglas.

David Tyler, Charles J. and M. Monteith Jacobs Professor of Chemistry, will present his findings Tuesday at the national meeting of the , Aug. 19-23 in Philadelphia, Penn.

of methyl methacrylate was 4 million metric tons in 2010. Each kilogram produced also yields 2.5 kilograms of ammonium hydrogen sulfate, a corrosive that is not usable. Disposal of ammonium hydrogen sulfate is extremely energy intensive, consuming 2 percent of the energy used in Texas annually.

Tyler’s team has identified a catalyst that doesn’t produce ammonium hydrogen sulfate. The university is securing a provisional patent for the catalyst.

“There were some really fundamental chemical reasons why previous catalysts didn’t work with this process,” Tyler said. “We’ve found a catalyst that overcomes all of those objections.”

With the identification of a working catalyst, Tyler will focus his research on how to accelerate the conversion to methyl methacrylate. The industrial standard for a practical catalyst is conversion of acetone cyanohydrin into methyl methacrylate in the span of a minute or two, Tyler said.

Explore further: Environmentally safer catalyst proves more active in hydrogen production

Related Stories

Metal particle generates new hope for H2 energy

June 28, 2011

( -- Tiny metallic particles produced by University of Adelaide chemistry researchers are bringing new hope for the production of cheap, efficient and clean hydrogen energy.

Novel chemical reaction

April 16, 2012

( -- A chemical reaction reported by University of Delaware assistant professor Donald Watson and his laboratory group has set the chemistry world abuzz for its creativity and potential utility. 

Recommended for you

Organic semiconductors get weird at the edge

October 6, 2015

As the push for tinier and faster electronics continues, a new finding by scientists at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Monash University could help inform the design of the next generation of cheaper, more efficient ...

New polymer creates safer fuels

October 1, 2015

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact. Researchers ...

Researchers print inside gels to create unique shapes

September 30, 2015

(—A team of researchers at the University of Florida has taken the technique of printing objects inside of a gel a step further by using a highly shear-rate sensitive gel. In their paper published in the journal ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Aug 21, 2012
According to Wikipedia it "can be further neutralized with ammonia to form ammonium sulfate, a valuable fertilizer."

I wonder if its "extremely energy intensive" disposal that consumes 2 percent of the energy used in Texas annually is used to create that extra ammonia.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.