This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 11, 2002

DOE Grant Supports Development of New Products from Corn

DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) announced on December 9th its receipt of a $2.4 million research grant from DOE for the development of new products made from corn fiber. PNNL will work with the National Corn Growers Association and Archer Daniels Midland Company for the next two and half years, aiming to economically derive high-value chemicals and oils from corn fiber. The researchers will start by purifying and characterizing trace chemicals within the corn fiber, but hope to progress to designing and constructing a pilot production plant by the end of the project. See the PNNL press release.

DOE supports the development of such "biobased" products-products made from plants or other organic material-because they often replace materials made from petrochemicals. In the case of corn fiber, developing a new biobased product market also improves the economics of using the rest of the corn to produce ethanol. Archer Daniels Midland, a partner in the project, is a leading producer of ethanol fuels from corn. For more information, see the Biomass Research & Development Initiative Web site.

One company is already producing a biobased product from corn-in this case, corn starch. Cargill Dow LLC started making commercial-grade polylactide (PLA), a polymer, from corn starch at a large-scale manufacturing plant in April. In November, Cargill Dow teamed with Fountain Set Limited and Amprica S.p.A. to advance the use of the material in clothing and for packaging foods. See the Cargill Dow press releases.