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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Functional Foods Research » Research » Research Project #438211

Research Project: Development of Enhanced Bio-Based Products from Low Value Agricultural Co-Products and Wastes

Location: Functional Foods Research

Project Number: 5010-41000-183-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 4, 2020
End Date: May 3, 2025

Objective 1: Resolve the unknown biophysical properties of novel bio-based composites and their ingredients to enable commercial fabrication of engineered wood products. Goal 1.1: Identify and develop techniques to convert low value ag-waste (i.e., fermentation residue solids and seed press cakes) and juvenile perennial biomass into marketable commodities. Goal 1.2: Identify and evaluate the factors associated with the response of novel EWP panels to various environmental conditions and methods of their ultimate disposal once their utility function is fulfilled. Objective 2: Convert agricultural wastes and low value byproducts into bio-based pesticides and enhanced soil amendments to increase commercial agricultural and horticultural yields. Goal 2.1: Identify chemical and physical properties of biochars produced from renewable biomass sources and from low-value agricultural co-products and develop these biochars for use as novel, high-value horticultural substrates and for bio based products. Goal 2.2: Evaluate the use of alternative pesticides from a variety of low value plant biomass and from harvesting and processing waste streams. Objective 3: Utilize specific phytochemicals and nutraceuticals from agricultural wastes and low value byproducts to develop new or improve nutritional value in foods and animal feeds. Goal 3.1 Identify key phytochemical components from low value products and wastes to characterize their chemical and biological activities when present alone or in mixtures for determining synergistic properties for new uses as food and feed ingredients. Goal 3.2 Use collaborative studies to determine the role/activities of key phytochemical components for use as bio-pesticides in feeds, feed storage, and plant growth systems. Objective 4: Enhance methodologies to quickly determine and evaluate chemical components and to rapidly and non-destructively assess levels of compositional components in large sample sets of raw agricultural harvests and products. Goal 4.1 Determine if single step accurate mass spectrometric analysis can be used to accurately determine the chemical formulas of phytochemicals present in extracts of seeds, leaves, stems, or bark of several target plant species. Goal 4.2. Determine if accurate NIR calibrations can be obtained for glucosinolate and flavonoid phytochemical components in plant species identified and characterized in the previous research project.

The overall goal of this project plan is to convert selected low-value agricultural feedstocks into value-added bio-products based upon their physiochemical or chemical properties. The specific bio-products being presented are: (a) engineered wood products (EWP) for indoor uses; (b) biochar as an adaptive for plant growth media; (c) slow-release bio-pesticides; (d) phytochemical (e.g. plant natural essences) based functional food and feed ingredients; and (e) phytochemical based pest control agents. In addition, it is proposed to develop convenient methods for phytochemical discovery and high-throughput methods for measuring amounts of known chemicals present in plant tissues. The feedstocks being investigated include residual pressed oil seed, distillers’ grains with soluble (DDGS) from corn ethanol plants, low-value Midwestern growing trees as well as cedars, and pelletized soybean hulls. Seed cakes will include from soybeans and oil seeds of belonging to the Brassica family that are of emerging interest for industrial applications: Lesquerella, cuphea, and pennycress. One notable aspect of this work is that the combination of feedstock and bioproduct were selected to exploit specific properties of each. The research will also make use of pre-existing expertise in supercritical fluids to develop “green” methods for recovery of bioactive chemicals from plants. Finally, the phytochemical discovery element will be expanded to other crops or plants of emerging interest to further arbitrage newly developed methods.