Consider Corn Challenge Winners Focus on Improving Existing Products in the Marketplace with Corn Based Next Generation Renewable Materials

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Pharmaceuticals, mechanical belts and personal care items were just a few of the products highlighted in the winner submissions to NCGA's Consider Corn Challenge II that would benefit from using corn-based materials.

Consider Corn Challenge

"It is encouraging for farmers to know that companies are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives for biobased products."

Today, at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and AgTech in Des Moines, Iowa, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announced the winners of the Consider Corn Challenge II. Three winners were chosen, each with a unique technology to improve a product or process using field corn to produce biobased materials.

“Corn is a sustainable, abundant and affordable industrial feedstock that, as these companies have demonstrated, has myriad uses,” said Director of Market Development Sarah McKay. “The winners of the Consider Corn Challenge will help America’s corn farmers partner with industry to establish new uses of corn. This challenge continues to highlight the fact that U.S. corn is an extremely flexible feedstock for biobased products.”

The three winners of the Consider Corn Challenge II are ExoPolymer, Inc., based out of San Carlos, California, Sumatra Biorenewables, LLC. from Ames, Iowa, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service in Peoria, Illinois.

ExoPolymer, Inc. intends to create a new profile of customizable, polysaccharide-based hydrocolloids that are domestically produced by microbial fermentation using corn sugar as a feedstock. These new hydrocolloids will meet the growing needs and performance gaps in the healthcare, personal care, food, pharmaceutical and energy industries.

Sumatra Biorenewables, LLC develops and produces novel monomers that are incorporated into polyamides and polyesters to provide uniquely valuable properties: notably tensile strength and low water absorption. These superior performance-advantaged materials have wide-ranging applications in the specialty nylon's industry. Opportunities include improved hydrophobicity, anti-static, flame-retardant, or have tuned mechanical strength to meet customer specifications.

USDA Agricultural Research Service: National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL plans to use emulsifiers, polymer films and coatings made from corn starch and vegetable oil rather than petroleum, which could open the door to new products with a smaller environmental “footprint.” The lab continued research on starch-based emulsifiers, positioning America’s corn farmers to grab a share of a global food emulsifiers market.

“It is encouraging for farmers to know that companies are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives for biobased products,” said Nebraska farmer and NCGA Feed Food and Industrial Action Team Chair Dan Wesely. “Corn farmers continue to produce more year over year. While corn is used for food products, animal feed, fuel and other uses annually, we historically have had enough corn left over to supply additional needs. In 2018, there was more than 2.2 billion bushels, or 55.8 million tons, of U.S. corn ending stocks.”

The total prize pool for the contest was U.S. $150,000. Each of the three winners received $50,000.

Today, at BIO World Congress, the winners will be on hand to present their contest submissions and talk more in-depth about their research and technology, as well as answer any questions, during the session Innovations in Next Generation Renewable Chemicals: Meet the Winners of the Consider Corn Challenge II on Monday, July 8 from 3:00 – 4:30 CDT in room 309.

Founded in 1957, the National Corn Growers Association represents nearly 40,000 dues-paying corn farmers nationwide and the interests of more than 300,000 growers who contribute through corn checkoff programs in their states. NCGA and its 50 affiliated state organizations work together to create and increase opportunities for corn growers.

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