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Elsewhere in ag innovations

Editor’s note: As a service to our readers, we provide news about the work of others in ag utilization. Often, research done elsewhere complements AURI’s work. Please note that ARS is the USDA’s research division.

Dairy wrap

Dairy products may perform as well or better then petroleum in food packaging. USDA-ARS researchers are developing strong, biodegradable, dairy-based films that provide excellent oxygen barriers. Most food packaging consists of multiple layers of synthetic polymers. But consumers and food retailers are increasingly concerned about packaging waste.

Films made from dairy proteins such as casein and whey show promise and provide a better oxygen barrier than their petrochemical counterparts. Researchers are working to improve the renewable films’ mechanical and barrier properties for various applications.


January 20, 2010

Tobacco fuel

Once a key agricultural crop in southern states and now reviled by many, the tobacco plant may improve its popularity in renewable fuels. Most of a tobacco plant’s oil is in its seeds. That oil has been tested as a diesel-engine fuel. Thomas Jefferson University researchers say they have found ways to engineer tobacco plants so the leaves express more oil, up to a twenty-fold increase, which would make the high-biomass plant a more attractive fuel feedstock.

From: Thomas Jefferson University

January 5, 2010

Comfortable soy seats

Travelers visiting some of the world’s largest and busiest airports may rest their weary bones on beans. Arconas, a global leader in airport seating, has started installing seats made with Cargill’s soy-based polyols. Soy foam is already widely used in residential furniture, but is just being introduced in airports such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Boston’s Logan and Lisbon International Airport.


November 30, 2009

Soy introductions

2009 was a big year for new soy-based products. The United Soybean Board helped introduce 26 products made with U.S. soybeans, such as insulation foams, furniture, automotive seating, adhesives, coatings, inks, cleaners, degreasers and adhesive removers. USB partners with industry and scientists to fund the research, development and commercialization of new products

Consumers can easily find some of the new products, including a soy-based wood floor stain from Rust-Oleum, a line of Simmons mattresses that include soy-based foam, and a degreaser and adhesive remover available at Home Depot and Ace Hardware. Other soy-based products, such as a plywood adhesive, pavement crack sealant and bioremediation agents used in environmental cleanup, are primarily for industrial uses.

From: Biobased Solutions

January 2010

Soy fighters

A study by the Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, Calif. has identified therapeutic agents in soy that may prevent or treat colon cancer. Tests on fruit flies showed that sphingadienes — natural lipid molecules found in soy — induced the death of mutant cells in flies. Cell death is a normal process the body uses to remove unhealthy or mutant cells such as cancer cells.

From: Cancer Research

December 15, 2009

Tired biomass

Soon our vehicles may not only be powered by biofuels but ride on tires made with renewable biomass. Genencor and Goodyear have rolled out concept tires made with Biolsoprene. The technology replaces a petrochemical-based ingredient with one derived from biomass.

The tires have been on display around the world, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Genencor researchers say Biolsoprene may also be used in other rubber products and adhesives.


December 2, 2009