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Ethanol Coproducts Eyed As Fillers In Plastics

Date:
July 2, 2008
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
A coproduct of ethanol production could be used as a non-petroleum-based filler in plastics, based on preliminary studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their cooperators. The ethanol coproduct, called distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS), has a high fiber content and a molecular structure suitable for binding--two attributes that make it a candidate as a filler in plastics

Distiller's dried grains, a coproduct of ethanol production, could be used as a non-petroleum-based filler in plastics.
Credit: Photo by Steven Vaughn

A coproduct of ethanol production could be used as a non-petroleum-based filler in plastics, based on preliminary studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their cooperators.

The ethanol coproduct, called distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS), has a high fiber content and a molecular structure suitable for binding—two attributes that make it a candidate as a filler in plastics, according to ARS agricultural engineer Kurt Rosentrater.

Rosentrater is based at the ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, S.D. He conducted the research with Robert A. Tatara, a professor at the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Department of Technology, part of NIU'S College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

The researchers compressed molded blends of DDGS and phenolic plastic resin (ranging from 0 to 90 percent DDGS) and found that DDGS concentrations between 25 and 50 percent worked best as fillers in plastics. These findings were published recently in the Journal of Polymers and the Environment (JPE).

The preliminary study yielded only limited data on the resulting physical properties of the various DDGS/plastic blends, so follow-up tests are currently under way.

The data can then be used to develop new bio-based manufactured products. Rosentrater and Andrew W. Otieno, also with Northern Illinois University's Department of Technology, have developed comprehensive guidelines that take into account the unique challenges encountered when manufacturing plastic composites that contain biological materials. This work has also been published in the JPE.

Fillers such as clay, talc, glass, paper and metals are commonly used in plastics to increase strength, and also to save costs by reducing the amount of actual plastic resin used. Using bio-based fillers such as bamboo, kenaf, corn stover, soybean hulls or even chicken feathers is receiving increased attention as a way to use less petroleum in plastic products. Thus both DDGS and distiller's dried grains (DDG) are candidates for use as biofillers for plastics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Ethanol Coproducts Eyed As Fillers In Plastics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629075630.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2008, July 2). Ethanol Coproducts Eyed As Fillers In Plastics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629075630.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Ethanol Coproducts Eyed As Fillers In Plastics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629075630.htm (accessed April 15, 2014).

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