Industry News

Air Products Donates VAM Technology to University of California

Published on 2004-01-19. Author : SpecialChem

01/19/2004 - Air Products has donated a technology portfolio to the University of California, Davis, consisting of U.S. and foreign patents involving processes and catalytic materials for producing vinyl acetate monomer (VAM). VAM is a key raw material in the production of emulsion polymers and polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH), which are used in a variety of applications including adhesives, building products, ceramics, textiles, coatings and paper products.

Air Products was a producer of PVOH for nearly 30 years. However, for strategic purposes, the company divested its PVOH business to Celanese AG in September 2000. Air Products remains active in the production of emulsion polymers and downstream products through its two joint ventures with Wacker-Chemie GmbH.

As a major purchaser of VAM for these products, Air Products has endeavored to find an alternative, low-cost production method for this key raw material. Air Products researchers were successful in developing the contributed VAM technology, which represents a new process whereby dimethyl ether is reacted with carbon monoxide-rich syngas in the presence of recycle streams to produce ethylidene diacetate (EDA) and acetic acid.

Initial tests indicated that the Air Products' method, with appropriate catalysis development, could be significantly less expensive than the conventional VAM technology. With its continued interest in improved routes to this key feedstock, the company began searching for a university on which to confer its technology and identified the University of California, Davis due to its expertise in catalysis.

"We are pleased that the stewardship of the VAM technology donation is in the very able hands of UC Davis," said John C. Tao, corporate director, Technology Partnerships at Air Products. "This institution has the enviable combination of a globally recognized center for heterogeneous catalysis research in Professor Bruce Gates' laboratories of the Chemical Engineering and Material Science Department, combined with the proactive and successful Technology Transfer Center at Davis."

"This generous donation reflects both UC Davis' standing as a major research university and the contributions Bruce Gates has made in this area over the past three decades. Equipped with these patents, Professor Gates and his students will now be able to pick up this technology and run with it. We're very pleased to have Air Products as a partner in research and teaching in this way," said Barry Klein, Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Davis.

This donation extends Air Products' partnership with UC Davis, which includes an association with the university's Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis). The institute recently dedicated a new Air Products hydrogen fueling station on campus as part of its research and demonstration programs on transportation technology. Click here for more information.

Source: Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

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