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Iowa State researchers improving plastics made from corn and soy proteins

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."
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Source:Iowa State University


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