The development of penicillin and other scientific contributions set an early standard of research excellence at NCAUR. Following are a few of the results that are more easily recognized for their global and enduring impact.
· Penicillin: Large-scale commercial production of penicillin during the 1940s opened the era of antibiotics and is recognized as one of the great advances in civilization. Discovering how to mass-produce the drug occurred in the U.S. -- at the Peoria lab.
· Dextran: Anyone ever having an IV has benefited from Dextran, a blood-volume extender first administered intravenously to Korean War battle casualties.
· Xanthan gum: Found in nearly every bottle of salad dressing and many other products on grocery shelves because of its ideal thickening properties, Xanthan gum is also used to extend the life of gas and oil wells.
· High fructose corn syrup: Scientists at NCAUR were the first to report immobilization of glucose isomerase enzyme, a technique that was later adopted by industry for production of high-fructose syrups from corn sugars.
· Corn-soy-milk (CSM) blend: NCAUR conducted much of the research on fortified foods, developing a process to convert corn and other whole grains to shelf-stable flours with improved nutritional quality. CSM is a blended food supplement used by the Food for Peace Program; some developing countries have copied the formulas and manufacture their own blends.
· SuperSlurper: The starch co-polymer technology found in disposable baby diapers revolutionized super absorbents and resulted in the development of multiple industries representing billions of dollars per year.
· Oatrim: Creation of a highly effective method to increase the soluble fiber content in foods has resulted in four hugely successful technologies; beginning with Oatrim, each has contributed to improved foods and greater global health.
· Ethanol research: NCAUR research has provided key discoveries in the commercial biofuels industry, generating improvements that have been widely adopted by grain-alcohol distillers to reduce production costs.
· Mycotoxin research: Scientists at NCAUR identified the biosynthetic pathways for two key mycotoxin families, essential in identifying the role of toxins in plant disease, determining acceptable levels, detection methods, and methods to reduce their presence in foods and agricultural crops.
· New crops and processing research: Researching oilseeds from around the world has led to new products from specialty crops, such as paper from kenaf, cosmetics from jojoba and meadowfoam and alternative rubber from guayule.
Largely as a result of ARS research, much of it conducted at NCAUR, soybeans have grown from a small forage/rotation crop to the second largest row crop in the United States, and the number one source of vegetable oil.
Soybeans in Food:
· Researchers developed a quantitative, sensory evaluation procedure for determining flavor quality and stability.
· Identification of trace metals as the cause of many of the off-flavors provided industry with processing responses that immediately improved the flavor of the oil.
· Identification of high proportions of linolenic acid as the cause of rancidity provided breeders with information leading to the development of soybean lines with lower linolenic acid content.
· Use of a highly selective catalyst combined with hydrogen allowed soybean oil to be used as high-temperature cooking oil and in shortenings and margarines.
Soybeans in Industry:
· Development of polyamide resides from soybean oil led to their use as hot-melt adhesives for shoe soles, bookbinding’s, solders to close seams in cans and packaging, moisture-proof coatings and paints for porous surfaces like concrete and cinder blocks.
· Derivatives of soybean oil produced nylon 9, a tough plastic especially suited for use in electrical insulation and gears, bearings, cams and similar parts.
· Tetrasulfide compounds, derived from vegetable oils are used as additives to extreme-pressure lubricants for crankcase or transmission oils, cutting or extruding oils and continuous steel casting lubricants.