Plumping plastics with ethanol

The US Department of Agriculture’s research unit discovered that distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), a coproduct of ethanol production, could be used as plastic fillers.

DDGS concentrations between 25 and 50 percent worked best, according to the researchers. Other bio-based fillers such as bamboo, kenaf, corn stover, soybean hulls or even chicken feathers are also receiving increased attention as a way to use less petroleum in plastic products.

Fillers such as clay, talc, glass, paper and metals are commonly used in plastics to increase strength, and also to save costs by reducing the amount of actual plastic resin used.

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