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Renewable building blocks for plastics

NSF Award:

Center for Sustainable Polymers  (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)

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Most plastics, from yogurt cups to automotive parts, are made from petrochemicals. However, researchers at the Center for Sustainable Polymers are working to develop new methods to make olefins, the building blocks of plastics, from renewable resources such as plants.

Center participants are developing technologies that transform carboxylic acids into alkenes that are key building blocks for the commodity polymer industry. Using high-throughput methods, a team of investigators at the University of Minnesota (UM) and Cornell University, is identifying highly efficient and inexpensive catalysts made up of Earth-abundant transition metals that can convert carboxylic acids derived from biomass into olefins.

This work was performed by NSF predoctoral fellow Maria Miranda and postdoctoral researchers Keying Ding and Anne LaPointe in the laboratories of William Tolman (UM) and Geoffrey Coates (Cornell).


  • overview of strategy to convert biomass to olefins for polymer fabrication
Strategy to convert biomass into polymers.
A. LaPointe, M. Miranda and K. Ding

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