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Conversion of Cyclic Amines into Lactams for Synthesis of Nylons and Other Polymers

Ames Laboratory

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PDF Document PublicationTechnology Brief (78 KB)

Technology Marketing Summary

Ames 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.


Lactams 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.

  • 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 Industries

Synthesis of nylons and other polymers.

More Information

Conversion of cyclic amines to a variety of lactams with yields of up to 50% have been demonstrated experimentally using this process, and Iowa State University, The Ames Laboratory Contractor, is seeking commercialization partners.

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,212,027
Process for the conversion of cyclic amines into lactams
Converting cyclic amines to lactams using gold supported catalysts.
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

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To: Stacy Joiner<>