The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) has signed its first commercial license with Battelle to produce a new plastic additive made from corn that offers a variety of commercial advantages. Battelle operates the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) based in Richland, Wash., where the research will occur.

The compound, isosorbide, can be used to improve the properties of plastic materials such as bottles. Research has shown that corn-based isosorbide will make these plastic bottles more rigid and stronger than the regular plastic bottles. The preliminary cost estimates show that isosorbide from this technology is competitive with petroleum-based building blocks used to make plastics.

Commercializing this product will provide benefits to the consumer and the grower. "The use of renewable corn derived isosorbide will reduce the amount of petroleum necessary to make plastics. Incorporating isosorbide into plastic will improve the properties of the plastic and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said Todd Werpy, PNNL program manager for bioproducts.

The ICPB entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with PNNL to develop this process for converting corn into isosorbide. The ICPB funded its tasks under the CRADA with Iowa corn checkoff funds, while PNNL's tasks were funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Source: Association Release