Corn Stover Sorbent Granules

Award Information
Department of Agriculture
Award Year:
Phase II
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:
Oil and coolant drips, leaks and spills from vehicles, machines, oil transfer units and a myriad of business and personal activities account for nearly 36% of petroleum waste that is polluting the Nations surface water, ground water, surface soil and sub-soil. (U.S. Department of the Interior Minerals Management Service, 2009). The usual clean up method of these drips and spills, on a hard surface, is the use of clay granules or polypropylene sheets. Clay is inefficient as an absorbent and poses expensive and potentially harmful disposal challenges. Polypropylene sorbents are more efficient but are expensive and are made from petroleum that, thus, creates its own disposal problems. While no hard data exists, antidotal evidence indicates that as much as 60 to 70 percent of the clay based and polypropylene sorbents sold are not disposed of in accordance with local or Federal laws. The use of clay or polypropylene based absorbents both do their part to deplete non-renewable resources that have other uses. For instance, polypropylene is manufactured from crude oil. Few would argue that crude oil has better uses than as a waste oil absorbent. Clay mined for use as an absorbent, like crude oil, is also a finite resource. As an example, Oil Dri Corporation of America, the largest supplier of clay based absorbent, notes in their 2008 Annual Report that they anticipate their clay reserves will last only about 40 years based on 2008 mining rates. (Oil Dri Corp. p.14) In the same document they point our that the clay, sometimes called fuller's earth, is also used for cat litter, bleaching and clarifying tasks, as carriers for agricultural chemicals and as a purifying agent in animal feed. (Oil Dri Corp. p.12) The replacement of clay based absorbents with renewable stover granules would extend for many years the supply of fuller's earth for other uses. Thus, the extensive use of clay, diatomaceous earth and polypropylene based absorbents present economic and environmental problems on several levels. Their widespread use also creates the opportunity to develop effective solutions to these problems. At a macro-level, the opportunity for this project is to displace ineffective and hazardous absorbents (clay, diatomaceous earth and polypropylene) with a highly absorptive, bio-based absorbent. In order to capturing a significant portion of the United States' $2 Billion absorbent market (Magnani 1998) the Applicant's research concluded that the newly developed absorbent would have to be designed so that consumers would not have to change their spill clean up practices in any way. Thus, the opportunity of this research project presents is to continue the development of a modular agglomeration system which transforms delicate corn stover fibers into highly absorptive, free flowing, granules uniquely capable of displacing inefficient clay absorbents in the market place.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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