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R&D/Leverage helping Iowa State bio-container work

July 13, 2012

AMES, IOWA (July 13, 12:30 p.m. ET) — R&D/Leverage is giving mold expertise to Iowa State University’s project to make plant containers out of bioplastics, which will slowly degrade when planted in a garden.

The ISU research team has developed 14 formulations, each with a different mechanical property. Early on, it became clear that the mold-making process was going to present a much greater challenge than for pots made with traditional, petroleum-based plastics.

“Ejection from the mold proved difficult for us,” said David Grewell, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and co-principal investigator of the project. “R&D/Leverage created a unique mold design that allowed complete release when the mold opened.”

R&D/Leverage and the ISU researchers conducted testing of the mold and various bioresins at R&D’s validation laboratory at company headquarters in Lee’s Summit, Mo. ISU brought all 14 different bioresins, ranging from polylactic acid (PLA) to polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHS) made from bacteria transforming sugars into polymers, to try oil resin and soy bean protein materials. Other materials included organic fillers such as dry distilled grains and corn stover, a byproduct of corn harvesting.

The research is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture and the United Soybean Board.