The winners of the Consider Corn Challenge II were announced July 8. 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 National Corn Growers Association 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.”
The three winners of the Consider Corn Challenge II:
- ExoPolymer, Inc., based out of San Carlos, California. 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 in the healthcare, personal care, food, pharmaceutical and energy industries.
- Sumatra Biorenewables, LLC. from Ames, Iowa, which 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 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.