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Innovative Cornstarch Makes Products Sustainable and 'Green'

United States English

At the 2019 BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and AgTech in Des Moines, Iowa, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist Gordon Selling today reported on his group's use of steam-jet cooking and other processing methods to create a starch-vegetable-oil-based complex with a variety of useful properties. For example, by combining cornstarch with vegetable oil, the team created a stabilizer to be used in salad dressings, sauces, ice cream and other foods or beverages, as well as industrial products like paints, glues and cleaners.

This stabilizer combines high-amylose starch with salts derived from vegetable oil fatty acids—rather than petroleum oil—producing emulsifiers, polymer films and coatings that could open the door to new products that leave behind a smaller environmental "footprint."

Such is the aim of Selling and ARS colleagues George Fanta and Veera Boddu, who work at the agency's National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois. There, they specialize in researching new, value-added uses for commodities from corn, soybean, wheat and other midwestern crops. That focus also puts the team on the cutting edge of sustainable new processing methods that can position these commodities as renewable alternatives to using petroleum-derived materials, such as those used to make plastics, industrial cleaners and surface treatments.