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New R&D Agreement Explores Uses of Wheat-Based Concrete / October 20, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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New R&D Agreement Explores Uses of Wheat-Based Concrete

By Marcia Wood
October 20, 1998

WASHINGTON, Oct 20--Lightweight concrete products such as exterior panels for high-rise office buildings may soon be made with an unusual ingredient--wheat starch.

The Agricultural Research Service, chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Artlo Industries, Inc., of Perris, Calif., entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement today in Washington, D.C., to develop, test and commercialize wheat-based concrete. Artlo Industries manufactures custom pre-cast concrete products.

"Unique and promising new uses of wheat starch resulting from agricultural research may provide strong, durable and attractive products for commercial and residential use—and an important new market for America's wheat growers," said I. Miley Gonzalez, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. In addition to building materials, other potential products from wheat-based concrete may include ornamental fountains, benches and planters.

Gonzalez signed the research agreement on behalf of USDA at a symposium for Hispanic-owned businesses in USDA’s Jamie L. Whitten Building in Washington, D.C.

Hispanic-owned Artlo Industries provides concrete products for some of the world's largest construction corporations as well as for other architectural, design, and engineering firms. Established in 1951, the company employs about 35 artisans and others at its 40-acre facility in Southern California.

Under the new agreement, ARS scientists in Albany, Calif. will provide samples of wheat-based aggregate for making the concrete to Artlo Industries.

Artlo Industries will test various mixes of the concrete for strength and durability, according to company president Arthur M. Lopez. Artlo will also determine cost-effective ways to manufacture lightweight, pre-cast wheat starch based concrete products for indoor and outdoor uses.

At the ARS Western Regional Research Center, Albany, Calif., plant physiologist Gregory M. Glenn will help develop specifications for commercial products. Glenn holds a patent for wheat-based concretes.

Today’s symposium was sponsored by USDA 's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization and the Washington, D.C.-based Latin American Management Association. LAMA promotes Hispanic enterprise, industry and technology.

The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement was arranged by LAMA and ARS' Office of Technology Transfer.

Technology contact: Martha B. Steinbock, Technology Transfer Coordinator, Pacific West Area, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA 94710, phone (510) 559-5641, fax (510) 559-5963, mbs@pw.usda.gov.

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