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Iowa Corn Attends Corn Utilization and Technology Conference with Iowa State Students

June 15, 2018

A delegation of Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) farmer-leaders, staff and seven Iowa State University students and staff attended the 2018 Corn Utilization and Technology Conference (CUTC) in St. Louis last week to network and see the latest in corn uses technology and research.

Joseph P. Polin, from Iowa State University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, took home the top prize in the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Utilization and Technology Conference 2018 Poster contest. Polin's poster titled "Overcoming the challenges of using corn stover as feedstock in autothermal pyrolysis" looks at controlling how corn stover burns itself to make bio-oil.

Joe is the third ISU student in a row to win the poster session; ISU students sponsored by the Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee won the 2014, 2016, and 2018 poster session. Polin’s research seeks to take abundant corn stover biomass and convert the lignocellulose fractions into valuable products more economically and efficiently by improving the scalability and process economics of corn stover pyrolysis systems.

“CUTC draws everyone from corn producers to value-added product producers, from students to seasoned scientists and engineers to see the latest industry developments.,” stated Iowa Corn Industrial Innovations Manager Alex Buck. “This conference is a great way to showcase and see work done throughout the corn value chain.” Buck gave a presentation titled, “Monoethylene Glycol from Corn: A single-step, thermocatalytic, continuous process” at the conference. His talk focused on ICPB’s current research project developing a proprietary and patented production method using corn in the industrial manufacturing of a raw material, monoethylene glycol (MEG). MEG is an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of antifreeze, plastic bottles for pop or bottled water, and polyester clothes. Today, MEG makes up about 30 percent of bottles and polyester.

By improving the manufacturing processes for bio-based materials, this method will continue to expand the renewable products market. Meaning enhanced yield of corn-based MEG over competition makes this biobased process more competitive with less waste than current biobased MEG.

“As more manufacturers seek ways to produce their products from greener materials with greater efficiency while reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, ICPB’s corn-based MEG has the potential to meet a vast and growing market,” said Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee Chairman Pete Brecht. “By improving the manufacturing processes for bio-based materials, this method will continue to expand the renewable products market. Meaning enhanced yield of corn-based MEG over competition makes this bio-based process more competitive with less waste than current bio-based MEG. This one switch to a more renewable material will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and improve the environmental footprint for hundreds of consumer products.”
Since 1987, CUTC has brought together leading innovators in the corn industry. The biennial conference provides a venue that allows scientific exchange and engaging discussions for researchers, farmers and other industry leaders.

For more information on ICPB’s research, go to iowacorn.org/research.

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The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is an 8,000-member strong grassroots-driven organization, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, serving members across the state, and lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its farmer members to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. For more information, visit iowacorn.org.

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