Improved Method for Producing Acetoxypropanoic Acid (APA)




The increasing awareness of biodegradability and sustainability by customers creates opportunities for the biorenewable chemical industry. Biorenewable chemicals are expected to have a 25 percent share in the chemical industry (excluding fine chemicals) by the end of 2030.


Description of Technology


Michigan State University’s invention uses lactic acid, a biorenewable feedstock, instead of a petroleum-based feedstock to produce 2-acetoxypropanoic acid (APA). APA is a polymer precursor necessary to produce acrylic acid, a common bulk chemical used in a variety of applications. The process is more efficient, facilitating a higher yield of the desired species-APA. As a result, less feedstock is required. In addition, dilute lactic acid can be used for this process, which is less expensive than highly concentrated lactic acid. The innovation decreases the cost of producing APA, which may offer greater competitiveness or higher profit margins for producers.


Key Benefits

  • Green technology: Use of this technology allows consumer product to be labeled “green.”
  • Less waste: The invention uses lower ratios of acetic acid to lactic acid, and the acetic acid is largely recycled.
  • Increased purity and yield: This innovation produces little water as a side product, allowing APA to be obtained in a mixture containing primarily acetic acid.
  • Feedstock flexibility: A variety of feedstock concentrations and/or purities may be used, making this process flexible.
  • Increased efficiency: Continuous operation using reactive distillation increases separation efficiency over batch production.
  • Cost stability: Non-petroleum feedstock reduces reliance on volatile pricing.




APA is most commonly converted to acrylic acid, a major bulk chemical most commonly converted into super adsorbent polymers (SAP). SAPs are used in a variety of personal care products, such as disposable diapers. Manufacturers are also investigating other uses of APA in consumer products that do not involve conversion to acrylic acid.


Patent Status


Patent pending




Aspi Kolah, Lars Peereboom, Carl Lira, Dennis Miller, Mike Lilga, Karl Albrecht


Tech ID




Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University