Research to find out more.
Bio-based Research a Success Story for ARS
April 3, 2002
Bio-based may be one of todays hottest new
buzzwords, but the Agricultural Research
Service isnt a Johnny-come-lately, just now jumping on the bio-based
product bandwagon. From the agencys inception, it has been a leader in
developing successful, new bio-based industrial products from agricultural
Development of a cornstarch compound that absorbs 1,600 times
its weight in liquid, 100 percent-soybean oil printing ink, and industrial
lubricants from meadowfoam and other oilseeds are just a few of ARSs
accomplishments in the realm of bio-based products.
Sometimes the focus of ARSs bio-based product research has
been on replacing a petroleum resource with a biological one. For example, ARS
invented a way to make a starch-based resin that can be used for biodegradable
foamlike products, such as packing peanuts. Today, one company,
Uni-Star Industries, Ltd., in Marion, Ark., makes starch-based resins that
become more than two million cubic feet of biodegradable loose packing material
each year, based directly on the ARS-developed technology. Putting just a
little water on the packing material made from these starch-based resins melts
it away completely.
The agencys research also has been the foundation for
whole new industries. Three companies--Tyson
Foods, Inc., in Arkansas; Maxim, LLC, in California; and Featherfiber
Corp., in Missouri--have begun developing a new industry based on an
ARS-invented method for turning waste chicken feathers into strong, absorbent
new industrial fibers. Maxim, for instance, is concentrating on marketing the
fibers as a filter for municipal water.
More information about ARS bio-based industrial product
successes, as well as new and ongoing bio-based product and bio-energy
research, is featured in a
special issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.