Navigation Links
Iowa State researchers improving plastics made from corn and soy proteins

David Grewell picked up the little plastic model of a molecule he keeps in his office. He scrunched the model's folding pieces into a ball. That's about the shape of a soy or corn protein, said Grewell, an Iowa State University assistant professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering. Then he unfolded the model into a long, straight loop. That's what happens when researchers add some glycerin ?a byproduct of biodiesel production ?and some water to the molecule. And that's how biorenewable, biodegradable plastics can be made from the proteins in Iowa crops.

But those aren't the strongest plastics. So Grewell is working with a team of Iowa State researchers to reinforce the plastics with nanoclays, pieces of clay that are just 10 to 20 billionths of a meter thick.

It's not easy to work with those tiny pieces of clay. They tend to stick together in clumps because of electrostatic forces, said Michael Kessler, an Iowa State assistant professor of materials science and engineering who's also working on the project. Those clay platelets need to be separated and mixed evenly throughout the plastic to be much good as a reinforcing agent.

The researchers are turning to high-powered ultrasonics ?high-frequency sound waves too high for human hearing ?to separate and disperse the platelets. It's a technology Grewell knows a lot about: he worked 12 years in research and development for the Branson Ultrasonics Corp. of Danbury, Conn. He has used ultrasonics to freeze strawberries, process rice and handle many other applications.

The researchers are also using microcellular foaming technologies from Trexel Inc. of Woburn, Mass., to mold and extrude the plastics. The processing technology is expected to enhance the biodegradable plastics while allowing the researchers to use less base material to make the plastics.

Grewell said the potential applications for plastics from crop proteins include disposable wraps for hay bales, po ts for plants and packaging for the food industry.

Grewell, Kessler, Howard Van Auken, a professor of management, and Gowrishankar Srinivasan, a graduate student in industrial and agricultural technology, are working on the plastics project with two Iowa companies, the Vermeer Manufacturing Co. of Pella and Vibroacoustics Solutions Inc. of Ames. The project is partially supported by a $68,758 grant from the Grow Iowa Values Fund, a state economic development program.

Jay Van Roekel, the segment manager for Vermeer's ag product group, said the company will test hay wraps made from the plastics developed by the Iowa State researchers. Van Roekel said the company is very interested in helping the research project.

"It's exciting to be involved in the development of biorenewable technologies and the harvesting of biomass," he said. "We see biorenewables taking hold and expanding every day."

Sam Senti, an application specialist for Vibroacoustics Solutions Inc., said the company would like to use biorenewable and biodegradable plastics in a stick lubricant it has developed. The bio-based lubricant rubs off on metals ?it, for example, can be used to help locomotive wheels roll more easily around curves in a track. Senti said biodegradable plastics that add rigidity to the company's product would be very useful in outdoor applications. And so the company wants to help the researchers with some field tests.

The researchers' plastics aren't quite ready to leave the laboratory. Grewell said he's working on production recipes, processing techniques and ultrasonics applications. Kessler will also work to characterize the plastics' strength plus its thermal and mechanical properties.

Working with the two companies should help move all that work ahead, Kessler said.

"Collaborating with these companies will be useful," he said. "And we hope it will help us come up with other ideas."
'"/>

Source:Iowa State University


Related biology news :

1. NC State scientist finds soft tissue in T. rex bones
2. K-State professors discover enzyme responsible for creation of a beetles hard shell
3. NC State researchers redesign life for Mars and beyond
4. K-State researchers study insects immune system
5. K-State researchers study gene regulation in insects
6. K-Staters design and build a low-cost remote sensing tool for environmental studies
7. Investment level in HIV prevention programs related to HIV incidence in the United States
8. Iowa State University botanists identify new species of North American bamboo
9. ConocoPhillips establishes $22.5M biofuels research program at Iowa State
10. Iowa State scientists demonstrate first use of nanotechnology to enter plant cells
11. NYU researchers simulate molecular biological clock

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:1/21/2016)... 2016 --> ... research report "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by Technology (Bio-Sensors, ... Expression, Voice Recognition and Others), Services, Application Areas, ... 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global Emotion Detection ... 22.65 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of ...
(Date:1/18/2016)... Calif. , Jan. 18, 2016  Extenua ... software that simplifies the use and access of ... and go-to-market partnership with American Cyber.  ... brings extensive experience leading transformational C4ISR and Cyber ... and integrating the latest proven technology solutions," said ...
(Date:1/11/2016)... Jan. 11, 2016 Synaptics Incorporated (NASDAQ: ... today announced that its ClearPad ® TouchView ™ ... won two separate categories in the 8 th ... Best Technology Breakthrough. The Synaptics ® TDDI solution ... supply chain, thinner devices, brighter displays and borderless designs. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016 NX Prenatal ... its proprietary NeXosome® technology for early warning of ... its most recent study by Dr. Thomas ... the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine,s (SMFM) annual meeting ... 1-6 th , 2016.  The presentation reported initial ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... New York, and New York, New York (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) today announced that it ... and develop new vaccines and immunotherapies for infectious diseases and cancer. ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... 10, 2016  Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN ) ... Brent Saunders , Allergan,s CEO and President, will be ... session at the RBC Capital Markets Healthcare Conference on ... The New York Palace Hotel in New ... live and can be accessed on Allergan,s Investor Relations ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... three states, announced today the promotion of two long-standing principal investigators (PI) to ... Family Medicine, Clinical Research and Development. , Dr. Laurence Chu, a Benchmark Research ...
Breaking Biology Technology: