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Minnesota-supported startup recognized by national corn contest

Courtesy of Minnesota Corn Growers Association Chris Nicholas accepted the Consider Corn Challenge award from Sarah McKay
MINNESOTA ROOTS: Chris Nicholas, Låkril Technologies president and co-founder, accepted the Consider Corn Challenge award Oct. 28 from Sarah McKay, director of market development for the National Corn Growers Association.
Låkril Technologies was one of six winners of NCGA’s Consider Corn Challenge.

The National Corn Growers Association recently honored  Låkril Technologies as one of its six winners in the organization’s third Consider Corn Challenge contest.

The NCGA competition is open to proposals that use field corn in innovative ways, with the goal of creating new products with significant market demand.

Låkril, a University of Minnesota-based startup that incorporated in 2021 to commercialize the university’s technology, is supported by Minnesota and Indiana corn marketing organizations. The company developed a method of producing acrylic acid and acrylates — chemicals widely used in the manufacturing of paints, coatings, textiles and more — out of renewable feedstocks like corn.

Specifically, Låkril has developed a solid acid over which lactic acid, which is produced commercially from fermented corn sugar, converts into acrylic acid.

Currently, acrylic acid is derived from petroleum sources. Carbon dioxide emitted during the process of creating acrylic acid could be reduced by at least 35% by instead using a renewable feedstock, such as corn.

Additionally, using a corn feedstock to produce acrylic acid could increase corn demand by tens of millions of bushels annually, providing a boost to Minnesota farmers and rural communities.

“Minnesota Corn is proud to partner with Låkril on their efforts to expand market opportunities for corn-derived sugars and ethanol, and contribute to the increased sustainability of many paints, coatings, adhesives and other polymers,” says Brandon Fast, chairman of the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council. “We’re excited that NCGA has recognized Låkril’s potential and look forward to seeing the results of their work.”

Sustainable acrylic acids, acrylates

Chris Nicholas, Låkril Technologies president and co-founder, says the company is excited about the prospect of bringing a sustainable supply of acrylic acids and acrylates to market.

“Because acrylics are petrochemicals today, there’s a need for a drop-in, biobased alternative to this technology,” Nicholas says. “We think we have the highest-yielding biobased acrylics catalyst now.”

In addition to Låkril, Minnesota Corn funds a variety of projects that aim to foster new uses for corn. Others include an effort by ClearFlame Engine Technologies to develop an ethanol-powered engine that can be used in long-haul trucking; a Center for Sustainable Polymers project to replace petroleum as the raw material from which plastics are made with renewable sources like corn; and a University of Minnesota project to create a system in which an ethanol-powered internal combustion engine would charge an in-use electric vehicle.

The six Consider Corn Challenge winners will split a $150,000 prize equally. The winners were announced Oct. 28 at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference in San Francisco.

More about the Consider Corn Challenge and this year’s winners can be found at ncga.com. Find more information about Låkril at lakril.com.

Source: Minnesota Corn, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all of its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

 

 

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