Office for Technology Commercialization

Biodegradable Polyester Produced From Non-toxic, Renewable Monomer

Technology #z05135

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

Image Gallery
Applications for Poly(3-HP)Ring opening polymerization path of 3-HPPrior methods for creating Poly(3-HP)
Marc Hillmyer, PhD
Professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Science and Engineering
External Link (
William Tolman, Phd
Professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Science and Engineering
External Link (
Managed By
Larry Micek
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-9568
Patent Protection

Polymer synthesis from macrocycles

US Patent 7714097
A New Synthetic Route to Poly[3-hydroxypropionic acid] (P[3-HP]):  Ring-Opening Polymerization of 3-HP Macrocyclic Esters
Macromolecules, October 7, 2004, pp. 8198-8200
Files and Attachments
Biodegradable Polyester Term Sheet [PDF]

Biodegradable Polyester has Higher Molecular Weight

A method has been developed to produce a biodegradable polyester known as poly(3-hydroxypropionic acid). The method combines the high-molecular weight and control aspects of ring-opening polymerization with the commercial availability of the beta hydroxy acid, 3-hydroxypropionic acid which is abbreviated as 3-HP. Since 3-HP can be derived from biological sources, the resulting material, poly(3-hydroxypropionic acid) or P(3-HP), is biorenewable. The new method allows direct synthesis of the bio-based polymer P(3-HP) from 3-HP, a commercial monomer that is derived from corn. The method uses a single vessel reactor for simple synthesis and rapid scale up. The method results in a higher molecular weight which makes the polymer more structurally sound using a process with lower toxicity than competing technologies.

The market for a bio-based and biodegradable replacement for polyester is expected to grow rapidly during the next five years. The bio-based polyester, P(3-HP), has attractive mechanical properties, such as rigidity, ductility, and exceptional tensile strength in drawn films and can be created using the new lower toxicity method. On account of these properties, P(3-HP) has applications in packaging or biodegradable plastics.

MN-IP Try and Buy
  • Trial fee is $5,000 for a six month license
  • $30,000 conversion fee (TRY to BUY)
  • No patent costs
  • Royalty rate of 3% (2% for MN company)
  • Royalty free for first $1M in sales

** View the Term Sheet **
** Contact Larry Micek for specific details. **


  • Allows direct synthesis of a biodegradable, bio-based polymer, poly (3-hydroxypropionic acid) from 3-hydroxypropionic acid, which can be derived from corn and is commercially available
  • Uses a single vessel reactor that can be used for simple synthesis and rapid scale up
  • Results in a higher molecular weight using a process lower in toxicity than competing technologies

Phase of Development Synthesized on laboratory scale. Additional development needed to optimize and scale-up the process.