In Iowa, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently published a patent application (U.S. 2015/0329449) from the Iowa Corn Promotion Board for a production method using corn in the industrial manufacturing of a raw material called monoethylene glycol (MEG).
“Patenting this research will lead to advances in the production processes for corn based bio-MEG eliminating the need for the petroleum ethylene derivatives currently used and creating demand for Iowa corn,” said Chris Weydert, a farmer from Algona, an ICPB director and vice chair of Iowa Corn’s Research and Business Development Committee. “This one switch to a more renewable material will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and improve the environmental footprint for hundreds of consumer products.”
Most MEG currently goes into making polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a plastic used for beverage bottles, polyester textiles, and films, but MEG can also be used as anti-freeze, coolants, aircraft deicers and industrial solvents. A large proportion of the current bio-MEG goes into making the biorenewable bottles for Coca-Cola, Heinz, and PepsiCo.
The traditional way bio-MEG is made is through a conversion of sugar cane ethanol, which is usually sourced from Brazil, to ethylene, but still the majority of MEG comes from oil. ICPB’s new process can eliminate this added costs to bio-MEG by going from corn sugar to MEG in one step.