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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Plant Polymer Research » Research » Research Project #437838

Research Project: Agricultural-Feedstock Derived Biobased Particles

Location: Plant Polymer Research

Project Number: 5010-44000-187-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 19, 2020
End Date: May 18, 2025

The goal of this research project is to use a wide range of technological approaches in the utilization of agricultural byproducts and feedstocks to improve functionalities of protein/carbohydrate particles for applications including, polymer seals, battery, pesticide, food ingredients, cellulose products, elastomer, and water treatment. Over the next five years, we will focus on the following objectives: Objective 1: Enable commercial production of new products based on functionalized particles for polymer seals and energy storage applications. Objective 2: Enable commercial production of new products based on the microencapsulation of environmentally-friendly pesticides and bioactive food ingredients. Objective 3: Enable commercial production of value-added products of micro/nano-sized celluloses and hemicelluloses from various agricultural wastes. Objective 4: Enable commercial processes to produce biochar products for elastomer composites and water treatment applications.

This research aims to enable biobased particle technologies that produce functional particles using renewable agricultural byproducts and feedstocks. The characteristics of these functional particles include size, shape, aggregate structure, and surface functionalities. These particles can be further modified to function as reinforcements in polymer matrices, multifunctional coatings for battery separator membranes, as controlled-release materials delivering food ingredients and chemicals and as cosmetic ingredients, and filtering media for water purification. The outcome of this research will contribute to the utilization of vast amounts of byproducts generated by the food industries, and benefit climate change by reducing greenhouse gases, all of which will promote a sustainable global bio-economy. Our previous research on biobased particles has produced composites with useful mechanical properties. Further development will advance polymer seals and energy storage applications. Our ‘masterbatch process’ will be applied to develop multifunctional coatings on battery separator membrane for ion conduction and short circuit prevention. Encapsulated products will be developed to extend active time of natural pesticides and to stabilize bioactive food ingredients. We will also develop nano-size hemicellulose/cellulosic materials for composite and cosmetic applications. Sustainable biochar from agricultural byproducts will be developed as an effective water filtration media for agricultural run-off and potable water. We will also improve biochar to become a more effective rubber filler. Upon the completion of this project plan, all technologies developed will be transferred to respective industries.