Industrial Uses of Agricultural Materials Situation and Outlook Report No. (IUS-4) 44 pp

December 1994

Industrial Uses of Agricultural Materials Situation and Outlook Report (4)

Market conditions and research increase industrial use of agricultural materials. Industrial uses of corn in 1994/95 are forecast up 12 percent from 1993/94. Most of the increase is expected to be used to make ethanol. Corn also is used to produce sorbitol, a polyol widely used in personal-care products. Meadowfoam, a new oilseed crop grown in Oregon, contains a unique oil that is used in cosmetics and has potential in other applications. As supplies of virgin timber tighten, nonwood biomass fibers, such as straw, and recycled fiber products, such as paper and wood wastes, are being used as raw materials for composite products. Livestock producers who operate large-scale confinement operations, such as dairies and hog farms, are looking for ways to handle and dispose of animal wastes that are cost effective and meet odor and pollution regulations. Farm-level production of biogas (using anaerobic digesters) is one solution that also will help control methane emissions into the atmosphere. Lignin, a common material in trees and woody plants, currently is a byproduct of pulp and paper production. However, research is underway to broaden commercial uses of lignin. One project is assessing the potential for converting lignin into pulping catalysts.

Keywords: industrial uses, agricultural materials, ethanol, corn, cornstarch, sorbitol, meadowfoam, polyols, wood composites, medicinal plants, biogas, manure, lignin

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