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Biochemicals & Bioplastics

The result of these research efforts has been the discovery of many new uses for corn, such as bioplastics, renewable fuels and a host of other products that use the starch from corn. Just look at a few of the items in your local grocery store and you will see more often than not that corn is an ingredient. What will they think of next? Only time will tell!


Investment by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board in research and business development allows for a direct return on Iowa corn farmer checkoff investments. Research programs aim to find new innovative uses of corn and improve the production efficiency of growing corn.


The checkoff funds invested by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board are finding new ways to use corn.  This research will result in higher blends of renewable fuel, better livestock feed, new bioplastics and better understanding of the impact of corn production on land area, commonly referred to as international indirect land use. The results will help preserve existing markets and develop new markets for corn. 

The key objectives for this research are to:

  • Develop new markets for corn
  • Develop new corn-based bioplastics
  • Overcome the current limits to ethanol use in gasoline (blend wall) to increase use of biofuels
  • Improve the performance of distillers grain as a livestock feed

MonoEthylene Glycol (MEG) is a corn-derived, drop-in monomer for soda bottles and polyester fabric, as well as antifreeze. 

Technip Energies Purchases Iowa Corn’s Monoethylene Glycol Technology | Ag Industry News and Events | Iowa Corn

Isosorbide is a corn-derived additive used to improve the properties of the plastic.

Isosorbide Applications is finding ways to utilize the corn based material in consumer products.

Mixed Alcohol Fuel is evaluation of blending several corn-based alcohols with gasoline to measure improved performance and reduced emissions. Hemicellulose is one of the components of the corn stover and kernels.  This is a potential source for new products such as fuel and bioplastics.

Feeding Vitamin C to beef cattle could offset the negative impact of sulfur in feed rations using distillers grain and solubles.

Indirect Land Use models use price elasticity of corn as an important input into the computer models that measure international indirect land use attributed to corn production.



The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) invests in research to develop new uses for corn. One promising area of new uses research aims to find new manufacturing processes that move towards the incorporation of new more “green chemicals” in plastics and other products.

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) and Technip Energies (T.EN) have signed an Asset Purchase Agreement under which Technip Energies will acquire ICPB’s patents, technology, and rights for the process technology to produce monoethylene glycol (MEG) from surplus corn plant-based feedstocks. 

Since 2013, ICPB has invested checkoff funds1 to develop the technology and to create new demand for corn-based products.  Corn-based MEG is used to produce renewable plastics. Technip Energies will advance the technology development, construct and operate a pilot plant to commercialize the technology and make it available for licensing.

“Iowa Corn has been dedicated to finding new uses and markets for corn to meet our mission for long-term Iowa corn farmer profitability,” says Stan Nelson, a farmer from Des Moines County and chair of the Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee. “By investing in research to expand the market for corn as an ingredient to replace oil, products like MEG will allow more renewable materials to be created and improve our environmental footprint. With the sale of MEG technology to Technip Energies, work will continue to explore other uses for corn such as propylene glycol.” 

Corn-based MEG is a drop-in replacement for current fossil fuel-based MEG and a base chemical for products like antifreeze, pop and water bottles, and polyester clothing. Over 70 billion pounds of MEG is used in the world every year with the yearly growth in the market equal to nearly 100 million bushels of corn.

Listen to this WHO Radio Interview With Alex Buck, Iowa Corn's Industrial Innovation Manager, about the MEG Technology Sale. 

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