COLUMBUS, OHIO (Aug. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET) — Researchers at Battelle Memorial Institute believe they've gotten to the bottom of the diaper market by developing soy-based polymers that can replace as much as one-third of the petroleum products currently used in those products.
Soybean-based soy meal can replace 33 percent of acrylic-based super-absorbent polymers - also known as hydrogels - while keeping the same absorption rate of 200 to 300 times their own weight, officials with Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle said in a recent news release.
The market for super-absorbent polymers (SAPs) is estimated at more than three billion pounds per year, with diapers and other personal care items making up well over half of demand. Battelle researchers now are looking to commercialize the soy-based polymers, which were developed with funding provided by the United Soybean Board and the Ohio Soybean Council.
Earlier this year, Battelle licensed technology to make soybean-based polyols to agricultural firm Emery OleoChemicals of Cincinnati. Emery has begun sampling the products to customers for use in flexible and rigid foams and other markets, and hopes to have the polyols in commercial production by the end of the year.