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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #281419

Title: Seashore mallow (Kosteletzkya pentacarpos) stems as a feedstock for biodegradable absorbents

item Vaughn, Steven
item Moser, Bryan
item Dien, Bruce
item Iten, Loren
item Thompson, Arthur - Art
item SELISKAR, DENISE - University Of Delaware
item GALLAGHER, JOHN - University Of Delaware

Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/22/2013
Publication Date: 7/19/2013
Citation: Vaughn, S.F., Moser, B.R., Dien, B.S., Iten, L.B., Thompson, A.R., Seliskar, D.M., Gallagher, J.L. 2013. Seashore mallow (Kosteletzkya pentacarpos) stems as a feedstock for biodegradable absorbents. Biomass and Bioenergy. 59:300-305.

Interpretive Summary: Seashore mallow is a perennial plant native to coastal marshes in eastern North America, Europe and Asia. Seashore mallow produces large yields of seeds which contain a valuable oil, and because it is tolerant of much higher levels of salt than most plants, we are examining it as an oilseed crop where salt prevents the cultivation of conventional crops. Seashore mallow plants produce many stems which can be harvested yearly and have been previously examined as a potential fiber source for textiles and to produce cellulosic ethanol. We examined the use of smaller stems in which the fibrous bark was intact and larger stems in which the bark was removed. By grinding the smaller stems in a mill, material was produced that when combined with a gumming agent produced an excellent hydromulch, which is material that is applied to the ground to prevent erosion and to allow plants to become established. For the larger stems the bark was first removed, and then the stems were ground in a mill and separated by sieving. Three fractions of differing sizes were generated, small, medium and large. The small fraction was used to absorb diesel fuel in the same manner as clay cat litter is currently used at gas stations and garages. The medium fraction when combined with a clumping agent formed an excellent biodegradable cat litter. The large fraction produced a serviceable bedding material for small animals. Developing multiple uses for the stems would help to support the initial growing and processing costs associated with a new crop such as seashore mallow.

Technical Abstract: Seashore mallow [Kosteletzkya pentacarpos (L.) Ledebour] is a perennial dicot native to coastal marshes in eastern North America, Europe and Asia. Seashore mallow is tolerant of saline soil and brackish water, and is being examined as a potential oilseed crop. Seashore mallow plants produce multiple stems which are being investigated for cellulosic ethanol production. In this study we examined milled and sieved seashore mallow stem fractions for use as biodegradable animal litter, as a bioabsorbent for organic liquids, and as hydromulch for erosion control. Larger, debarked stems were milled and separated into three fractions by sieving. The largest fraction (material retained on a 6 mesh sieve) absorbed water readily and appears to be an excellent bedding material for birds, rabbits and other small animals. The middle fraction (material which passed through a 6 mesh sieve and was retained on a 45 mesh sieve) made an excellent base for biodegradable cat litter. The smallest (material passing through a 45 mesh sieve) fraction, after being formed into pellets, absorbed over nine times as much diesel fuel on a weight basis than a commercial clay cat litter, as clay cat litters are commonly used for this purpose. The smaller stems possessing their bark (bast fibers) were milled to produce a material which after the addition of guar gum as a binder was formulated for use as hydromulch, and had comparable properties to a commercial hydromulch made from wheat straw.