Cargill and enzymes specialist Novozymes have signed a joint agreement to pursue production of acrylic acid from fermentation-derived 3-hydroxypropionic acid. The Department of Energy will support the project through a $1.5 million cooperative development agreement. Acrylic acid is used to make coatings, fibers, and superabsorbent polymers. It is currently produced by propylene oxidation, but the two firms say the high cost of petrochemical derivatives is now making the conversion of carbohydrates more attractive. Cargill has traveled down this route before. In 2005, the firm and another enzyme specialist, Codexis, announced a breakthrough in developing a biotech route to 3-HP, also with aid from DOE. At the time, the two firms said it would take a year or two to develop a commercially viable process, but the collaboration ended in 2006. Cargill and Novozymes now say they expect their technology to be ready within five years.