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Cornfield plastic bottle combo

Corn grain acceptable feedstock for bioenergy applications

DOE action could help increase use of corn in new products to replace traditional petroleum-derived plastics.

In the most recent funding opportunity announcement, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) clarified that corn grain is an acceptable feedstock. This means that starch-derived sugars, specifically starches from field/feed corn, were clarified as acceptable.

“This is an important evolution in how DOE interprets legislative intent,” National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) market development director Sarah McKay said. “Given U.S. corn growers’ ability to efficiently produce, it is clear that corn can not only meet the needs of existing markets but can enable exciting new markets for renewable materials. We are excited to continue working with BETO and other government agencies to lay the groundwork and develop a solid foundation for future markets for corn.”

“We really appreciate the time that the senior leadership at DOE took to discuss policy with us, and we are looking forward to seeing new research focused on corn renewable chemicals,” said Dan Wesely, chair of NCGA’s Market Development Action Team.

The timing of this announcement is important because it means those looking for funding opportunities through BETO’s Plastics Innovations Challenge can use corn as a base for recycling technologies in the manufacture of new plastics. BETO works to develop industrially relevant technologies to enable domestically produced biofuels and bioproducts.

“One of the primary areas of potential is in bioplastics,” McKay added. “Now, BETO is able to use corn grain for agency funding and testing in national laboratories. Corn is an abundant, affordable, sustainably produced product, making it a competitive crop to use for bioplastics and other bioproducts.”

An example of a product that could now be developed to use corn grain as a feedstock is single-use plastics such as water bottles and plastic bags. Learn more about corn as an industrial feedstock and NCGA’s initiatives around new uses at ncga.com/newuses.

TAGS: Policy
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