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Purdue students create new products from corn and soybeans

By Keith Robinson

Purdue students create new products from corn and soybeans

Author: Keith Robinson
Magazine Section: Change The World
College or School: CoE
Article Type: Article
Teams of Purdue University students who developed a soy-based denture adhesive and a liquid bandage out of corn have won the top prizes  in the annual Student Soybean and Corn Innovation Contests.

The awards were announced at a banquet March 23 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis.

Team members who developed an all-natural denture cream adhesive they call Dentural took the top prize in the Student Soybean Innovation Contest. They are, from left, Manaz Taleyarkhan of Lafayette; Ankit Gupta of Carmel; David Barron of Saline, Mich.; and Alvin Ang of Malaysia. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)

The competition, sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, teaches students how to be innovative entrepreneurs with corn and soybeans.

"The versatility of corn and soybeans is limitless, and these competitions serve as a showcase not only for the potential new uses of crops grown here in Indiana but also for the students who put their time, effort and talent into their projects," said Jane Ade Stevens, executive director for both the corn and soybean checkoff organizations.

Some products that students have created in previous contest years have led to commercial development and further research. Soy crayons, for example, are available in stores under the Prang brand, and a soy pharmaceutical excipient is undergoing full-scale university research.

This team that developed a liquid bandage won first place in the Student Corn Innovation Contest. Team members showing their product and having a little fun in a mock injury with a fork are, from left, Andrew Furrow of Greenwood , Ann Alvar of Zionsville and Robert Agee of Rushville. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)

"Indiana corn and soybean farmers are committed to working with Purdue to continue to build excitement around the new uses competitions, which ultimately helps build demand for corn and soybeans," Stevens said.

Team members who developed Dentural, the first-place entry in the soybean contest this year, presented an all-natural adhesive for full dentures. The product is in the form of a paste consisting of soy products that form a vacuum to keep dentures in place. It is an alternative to synthetic chemicals used in other products.

Team leader Alvin Ang of Malaysia said the group chose to develop Dentural after learning that other denture creams contain zinc, leading to health concerns.

"So we decided to come up with a safer and better way," said Ang, a senior chemical engineering student.  He said one dentist already is interested in the product.

The team will share a cash award of $20,000. Other members are Manaz Taleyarkhan of Lafayette; David Barron of Saline, Mich; and Ankit Gupta of Carmel.

A soy-based food additive developed by this team was the second-place entry in the Student Soy Innovation Contest. Team members are, from left, Danielle Dawson of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; Chandana Namburi of Terre Haute; Jeffrey Lai of Taipei, Taiwan; and Kat Gilbert of Indianapolis. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)

Students who created the Natural Renewal Liquid Bandage out of corn used the ethanol production waste product zein as the main component. Zein is a transparent, edible, water insoluble and biodegradable polymer that acts as a physical defense for wounds and binds to the skin's surface. Students used ethyl alcohol made from corn that would act as an antiseptic until the solvent evaporates. They believe that the product also will act as a skin scaffold that will reduce scarring in minor wounds. 

“This is such an untapped idea,” said team leader Robert Agee, a junior biological engineering and pharmacy major from Rushville. “And it is 100 percent safe.

Other team members who produced that winning entry, also a $20,000 prize, are Andrew Furrow of Greenwood, Ann Alvar of Zionsville and Yang Zhou of West Lafayette.

Other winners in the contest:

Soybean, second place, $10,000: Food additive FIBits, which provide fiber and protein to children while enhancing flavor. It can be added to baked goods such as muffins, pancakes and cupcakes as well as to dry foods such as cereal and oatmeal, and desserts such as cheesecake or ice cream. Team members are Danielle Dawson of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; Jeff Lai of Taipei, Taiwan; Chandana Namburi of Terre Haute; and Kat Gilbert of Indianapolis.

Ceiling tiles made from corn stover are displayed, from left, by Spencer Deig of Evansville, Audrey Wessel of St. Anthony and Jonathan Welte of Elberfeld. The team took second place in the Student Corn Innovation Contest. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo/Tom Campbell)

Soybean, third place, $5,000: Antimicrobial surface protector. The sprayable coat works to protect countertop surfaces from stains and scratches while providing protection against micro-organisms that could be harmful to humans. Team members are Cameron Brown and Vinchessica Gray, both of Gary; Jordan Blackwell of Wausau, Wis.; and Tochykwu Chimezie of Baton Rouge, La.

Corn, second place, $10,000: Drop ceiling tiles made from corn stover. The tiles are more environmentally friendly compared with regular tiles made from such materials as wood, plastic and fiberglass and other materials. The tiles not only lessen the amounts of trees or fossil fuels needed to make ceiling tiles, but they also can provide corn producers with another source of revenue. Team members are Jonathon Welte of Elberfeld, Audrey Wessel of St. Anthony and Spencer Dieg of Evansville. 

Corn, third place, $5,000:  PLAdhesive, hot glue stick. The team developed a group of products based on polylactic acid, with emphasis on hot melt adhesive technology. Because PLA-based resins offer tremendous tensile strength, the team contends they will be an improvement over traditional hot melt adhesives. Team members are Tom and Grimes of Fort Wayne, Neal Kostry of Mishawaka and Kevin Fischer of Roselle, Ill.