CHICAGO — Archer Daniels Midland Co. and South Korea-based LG Chem, Ltd. on Sept. 25 announced a joint development agreement to create biobased acrylic acid, a key element needed in the manufacture of superabsorbent polymers used in diapers and other hygiene products.

“The acrylic acid project is another effort from ADM to create new sustainable materials from renewable resources and demonstrates our strong commitment to support customer demand through innovation,” said Todd Werpy, Ph.D., senior vice-president and chief technology officer at ADM. “By tackling this challenge with LG Chem, we can leverage the strengths and expertise of both companies to bring a cost-effective, sustainable solution to our customers.”

Under the terms of the agreement, ADM and LG Chem will work jointly toward economically viable commercial production of a 100% biobased acrylic acid using ingredients from ADM corn processing. Acrylic acid currently is produced almost exclusively from petrochemicals.

“As customers focus more and more on sustainable alternatives, ADM is looking to continually push the envelope and find new ways to diversify our product mix,” said Chris Cuddy, president, carbohydrate solutions for ADM. “We currently produce about 30 different products from a kernel of corn, and we’re eager to explore the possibilities provided through biobased acrylic acid.”

Trade sources said the deal could affect the supply of dextrose, one of the products produced from corn along with corn sweeteners, starches and other food and industrial products.

LG Chem plans to review the construction of a bio-superabsorbent polymer production plant in North America and to explore additional bio plastic opportunities to support production.

LG Chem is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of acrylic acid and is South Korea’s largest diversified chemicals company. ADM is one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers with about 40,000 employees in 200 countries.