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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DISCOVERY AND UTILIZATION OF BIOACTIVE COMPONENTS FROM NEW CROPS AND AGRICULTURAL CO-PRODUCTS

Location: Functional Foods Research Unit

Title: Formulation of a biodegradable, odor-reducing cat litter from solvent-extracted corn dried distillers grain

Authors
item Vaughn, Steven
item Berhow, Mark
item Moser, Jill
item Lee, Edward -

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 3, 2011
Publication Date: April 2, 2011
Citation: Vaughn, S.F., Berhow, M.A., Moser, J.K., Lee, E. 2011. Formulation of a biodegradable, odor-reducing cat litter from solvent-extracted corn dried distillers grain. Industrial Crops and Products. 34:999-1002.

Interpretive Summary: Cats are among the most popular pets in the U.S., and the majority of these animals are kept indoors where litter boxes containing some type of absorbent litter material are needed. Dried distillers grains (DDGs) are a major co-product of the fuel ethanol industry, and most DDGs are sold as animal feed. We have been studying higher economic value uses for DDGs by extracting valuable natural compounds from them with a variety of organic solvents. Unextracted DDGs have a strong odor reminiscent of fermenting grain, but the extracted DDGs have little or no odor. Because these extracted DDGs absorb over twice their weight in water, we investigated their use as potential cat litter. By adding anti-dust and clumping agents at several rates, a litter formulation with little or no dust and excellent clumping ability was obtained. The addition of copper sulfate to this formulation significantly decreased the odor of a chemical similar to a compound naturally released by the decomposition of cat urine. From these results it appears that extracted DDGs have potential as commercial cat litter.

Technical Abstract: Cats are among the most popular pets in the U.S., and the majority of these animals are kept indoors where litter boxes containing some type of absorbent litter material are needed. Dried distillers grains (DDGs) are a major co-product of the ethanol industry, and are principally sold as animal feed. We have been studying value-added uses for DDGs by extracting valuable phytochemicals from them with a variety of organic solvents. The objective of this research was to determine if the extracted DDGs could be formulated as cat litter. Extracted DDGs absorbed significantly more water (termed hydration capacity) than unextracted DDGs, although sorting the extracted DDGs by particle size had no effect on hydration capacity. Through the addition of glycerol as a dust retardant and guar gum as a clumping agent, a formulation was obtained with desirable physical properties. The addition of copper sulfate to this formulation significantly reduced the release of a volatile odor compound chemically-similar to the odor compound produced by the decomposition of cat urine. From these results it appears that extracted DDGs have potential as commercial cat litter.

Last Modified: 8/30/2014