Lygos, CUMIRP partner to expand uses for biochemical product

By Lygos Inc. | March 05, 2019

Lygos Inc., a full-stack producer of petroleum-free specialty chemicals that deliver high-value performance without the environmental toxicity, announced a new partnership Feb. 20 with the Center for University of Massachusetts-Industry Research on Polymers, the nation’s oldest National Science Foundation Industry / University Cooperative Research Center dedicated to polymer research.

The partnership, led by Professors Harry Bermudez and Shaw Ling Hsu of the UMass-Amherst Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, aims to develop novel high-value applications for the company’s Bio-Malonic Acid product family, which includes the derivatives diethyl and dimethyl malonates. By elucidating how the underlying microstructures of cross-linked polymer systems are enabled by malonates, the collaboration endeavors to identify new formulations that will result in high-value, stable and sustainable materials, such as impact-absorbing foams, composites and durable coatings. These polymers are currently produced using petrochemical-based processes that are not only toxic to the environment but also represent a health risk to workers and end-users.

“Our Bio-Malonic Acid products provide a cost-effective and sustainable alternative for producing high-performing polymers that can be used for many large industrial and consumer markets,” said Johan van Walsem, chief operations officer of Lygos. “Together with Professors Bermudez and Hsu and their team at the University of Massachusetts, we aim to produce various high-value, thermally stable polymer systems that can eventually replace harmful petro-based processes, reclaim local manufacturing, revive industrial innovation, and revitalize the circular economy.”

This research collaboration will characterize polymer microstructures using novel artificial intelligence and machine learning-based approaches to elucidate structure-property relationships for disordered crosslinked systems. Despite an abundance of data on crosslinked polymer systems, the knowledge of how to achieve the ideal balance of chain extension and crosslinking for optimizing performance in specific applications is still lacking. This collaboration will explore the application of malonates with multiple reactivities and variable hydrophilicity in crosslinked systems including foams, coatings, adhesives, and films that are critical to many industries including healthcare and consumer goods.

“Most crosslinked materials are developed and used because of their attractive properties and thermal stability. It is also precisely these special attributes that make them particularly challenging to characterize. The innovative approaches powering this collaboration promise to substantially expand our understanding and control of these systems,” said David Waldman, PhD, director, CUMIRP.

“Lygos has developed a range of malonates with the potential to enable new performance properties in a range of crosslinked materials systems and impact multi-billion-dollar markets that are seeking more sustainable and renewable solutions,” said Shaw Ling Hsu, PhD, professor of polymer science and engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst.