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Iowa Corn Promotion Board Patent Improves Production Process for Bio Based Plastics

September 23, 2015

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) is the recipient of a newly issued patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent relates to an improved production process in making the compound isosorbide a key material in bio based plastics and polyester. Isosorbide can be used to increase the bio content of plastic bottles and other polymers while increasing the useful properties like plastic melting temperature.

Specifically, U.S. patent number 9,120,806 titled “Dianhydrosugar Production Process” removes the need for using an expensive vacuum or inert gas in the production process. Also, it eliminates the need for including environmentally undesirable organic solvents. All of which makes the process cheaper allowing for greater consumption of corn and corn products.

“The new patented process allows for the increased production of corn derived isosorbide creating new markets for corn farmers,” said Research and Business Development Committee Chair Curt Mether, a corn farmer from Harrison County. “This allows for a reduction in the amount of petroleum needed to make plastics, lowers carbon emissions and decreases the cost of consumer goods manufactured employing this process.”

The Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee funds research to develop new uses for corn in the area of bioplastics. By 2017, the USDA estimates the bioplastics market will consume more than two billion pounds of plastic a year. This equates to 100 million bushels of corn. Traditional plastics use five percent of the global petroleum supply.

Mether said this project is just one example of ICPB research yielding results for Iowa’s corn farmers.  ICPB investments are working to develop items such as bottles, dining utensils, and shopping bags, all of which can be made from corn.

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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 a membership organization lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its 8,000 farmer members. Both organizations work on the joint mission to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability.

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