A Revolutionary Plastic Made From Corn

article image
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/KOBCHAI M.
With CDP set to make biodegradable plastic out of corn, you'll be able to compost your water bottles along with your kitchen scraps.

Learn about this revolutionary plastic made from corn. Broccoli fights cancer, carrots sharpen vision, but who could have guessed that corn would prevent head contusions?

Vegetables have long been regarded as one of nature’s
greatest gifts. Broccoli fights cancer, carrots sharpen
vision, but who could have guessed that corn would prevent
head contusions? If Dow Chemical and Cargill Company have
anything to say about it, your bicycle helmet will be made
with maize.

Cargill Dow Polymers (CDP), a joint venture of Cargill
Company and Dow Chemical, has invented a new biodegradable
polymer, a revolutionary plastic made from corn that may revolutionize the plastic
industry.

Using a patented process called NatureWorks, CDP
extracts unrefined sugar from corn and, through
fermentation, transforms it into lactic acid. Water is then
removed from the lactic acid to form lactide, which in turn
is refined to produce polylactide polymers (PLA). Commonly
known as bioplastic, PLA is biodegradable and can be
composted in your backyard along with your table scraps.

“Not only are we using biodegradable components to
manufacture plastic, but we can compete with your standard
oil-based plastics on a cost and performance basis,” says
John Ohman, marketing executive for CDP.

Already a leader in the production of ethanol, a gasoline
additive made from corn, CDP is banking on bioplastics to
outpace traditional petro polymers. Sure to help the cause
are skyrocketing oil prices, which over the last year have
doubled worldwide.

Finally headed for market after ten years on the drawing
board, PLA will be produced in a $300 million CDP plant
being built in Blaire, Nebraska, and scheduled to open in
2001.

–Eben Carle