Methaform: performance materials from itaconic acid and methacrylic acid

The Dutch Top Sector Chemistry and the Association of Paint and Printing Ink Manufacturers (VVVF) aim to realise a 30 to 50 per cent reduction in the use of fossil resources by 2030. The Methaform project is making a major contribution to realising this goal by developing performance materials such as paint and printing ink from the biobased building blocks itaconic acid and methacrylic acid.

Itaconic acid can be obtained by converting sugars biotechnologically. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has developed a process for producing methacrylic acid – currently produced from fossil resources – from itaconic acid. The polymers from methacrylic acid are used in the production of coatings and textiles as well as alternatives to glass, such as plexiglass.

Methacrylic acid from itaconic acid

The project goal is being achieved by developing further routes for the biotechnological production of itaconic acid from sugars and the further conversion to biobased methacrylic acid.

Itaconic acid and methacrylic acid are building blocks with chemical similarities.. The project compares them in order to show that the building blocks can be processed in the same way as their fossil counterparts. This would mean that these (co)polymers can also be used for the production of performance materials such as water-based coatings.

"We aim to show that it is technically feasible to produce valuable polymers and materials with these biobased building blocks." - Project leader Daan van Es, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research.

This project is a collaboration of Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), EOC Belgium and Van Wijhe Verf.