Corn Stover Sorbent Granules

Award Information
Department of Agriculture
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
138 E MAIN ST, West Concord, MN, 55985
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
George Coy
(507) 527-2233
Business Contact:
George Coy
(507) 527-2233
Research Institution:
Waste oils, coolants and other hazardous liquids dripped or spilled on the floor of machine shops, manufacturing facilities, auto repair and service shops have been a recognized environmental liability for decades. Far and away the most common medium used to clean up these spills has been clay based sorbents, commonly called "floor dry". Clay as an absorbent medium presents its own problems. It is inefficient as it generally absorbs only a few times its weight in oil. In addition it is heavy, thus making it expensive to transport. Finally, when saturated, clay sorbents cannot be disposed of in an environmentally responsible way due to its inherently high ash content (90%). If saturated clay is disposed of by a certified hazardous waste incinerator, a significant amount of fuel is required to burn the oil or other waste off the surface of the clay granules and over 90% of the product remains as ash to be hauled to the land fill. Even if the saturated clay goes directly to the land fill, the oil or other hazardous waste is washed off into the surface water (not a good thing), again leaving the clay as land fill. Preliminary laboratory trials show that the cellular make up of the aerial part of the corn plant (excluding the grain, herein called stover) may be, when processed properly, an oil absorbent medium superior to other absorbents including clay based sorbents. Preliminary tests have shown stover sorbent will absorb over five times more oil than clay sorbents (NRRI 2008). Further, lab analysis (Pace Analytical 2005) shows totally oil saturated stover sorbent, when incinerated, produces less than it one tenth of one percent of the Federal minimum allowable emission for incineration of hazardous waste. It does this using no supplemental fuel and leaves less than 5% ash residue. Therefore, properly prepared corn stover agglomerates has greater absorbency than clay. Thus, stover absorbents offer both better performance and superior disposal options. This Small Business Innovation Research Phase 1 Project is directed toward the development of a novel process in which the cellular structure of corn stover is transformed into a granular, free flowing, highly absorptive, porous, light weight medium that can be used to compete with clay based sorbents. The primary research will be done by the University of Minnesota - Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute (herein NRRI). NRRI will then work with Clean Plus, Inc. (herein CPI) to apply the research findings to create a small pilot plant to produce proof of concept granular product for absorption and incineration tests and to seek the optimum characteristics of a product to replace clay based sorbents. In addition this project has the potential to fill a crying need in not only rural Minnesota but in rural America by creating additional farm income and by creating additional full time, year round employment in farm communities.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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