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Renewable acrylonitrile production

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Science  08 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6368, pp. 1307-1310
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan1059

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A sweet source to make acrylonitrile

Much of the attention directed toward displacing petroleum feedstocks with biomass has focused on fuels. However, there are also numerous opportunities in commodity chemical production. One such candidate is acrylonitrile, a precursor to a wide variety of plastics and fibers that is currently derived from propylene. Karp et al. efficiently manufactured this compound from an ester (ethyl 3-hydroxypropanoate) that can be sourced renewably from sugars. The process relies on inexpensive titania as a catalyst and avoids the side production of cyanide that accompanies propylene oxidation.

Science, this issue p. 1307