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A Process for the Conversion of Cyclic Amines Into Lactams

Ames Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryAmes Laboratory researchers have developed a process for the conversion of cyclic amines into lactams, which may have utility for the production of nylons and other industrial polymers. DescriptionLactams are used for a wide variety of commercial applications, such as precursors for the production of solvents, nylons, and other polymers.  Caprolactam is a particularly important lactam that is used as a precursor for Nylon-6, of which millions of tons are sold each year.  However, the traditional commercial process for production of caprolactam uses highly corrosive sulfuric acid and generates ammonium sulfate as a by-product. So-called “green” methods for production of caprolactam give relatively high yields, but require expensive high pressure equipment.  To overcome these drawbacks, Ames Laboratory researchers have developed a process for the conversion of cyclic amines (typically 5-, 6-, and 7-membered rings) into lactams that can be used for the synthesis of nylons and other commercially important polymers.  This process uses Au/SiO2 to catalyze the reaction of cyclic amines with oxygen at low pressures and uses starting materials that do not require lengthy syntheses.Benefits
  • Enables synthesis of lactams used for a variety of commercial applications
  • Process does not use highly corrosive sulfuric acid or generate ammonium sulfate by product
  • Does not require high pressure equipment
  • Uses different starting materials than traditional routes to lactams
Applications and IndustriesApplications include synthesis of nylons and other polymers.More InformationPatents have been applied for, and commercial partners are being sought.

See related article: Ames Lab, Iowa State researcher hunts for green catalysts
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
03800/AL571Development - Conversion of cyclic amines to a variety of lactams with yields of up to 50% have been demonstrated experimentally using this process.Available04/04/201104/04/2011

Contact AMES About This Technology

To: Stacy Joiner<joiner@ameslab.gov>