Manufacturing News

USDA spinning wheat into packaging gold

March 22, 2003
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
Researchers at the U.S. Depart-ment of Agriculture (USDA) say they have used wheat to make "clamshell" sandwich containers that are more environmentally friendly than old polystyrene clamshells and that keep food warmer than the cardboard containers currently used by many fast-food restaurants.

The researchers presented their findings in April at the 221st national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego. Geoffery Nobes of USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Albany, Calif., reported that he and other researchers are testing biodegradable clam shells made of fiber from the wheat stalk and starch from the wheat kernels. He explained that resulting products are starch-based foam composites with mechanical and thermal properties comparable to those of polystyrene, which have been largely removed from circulation due to environmental concerns. (The product is not biodegradable and contains ozone-damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).)

Nobes noted that the starch-based containers are biodegradable. He also acknowledged that biodegradable food containers made of potato starch are already in use the U.S., but said that wheat starch and wheat straw are less expensive.

He likened the manufacture of the containers to making waffles, explaining that the starch is extracted from kernels and mixed into water with ground straw. The resulting batter is then poured into a mold and baked. With the resulting product, the fiber serves as the insulating filler and the starch as glue to hold the fiber together.

Assuming further testing is successful, the wheat clamshells could hit the market in two or three years.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2014

Blue Diamond Growers was chosen as Food Engineering's 2014 Plant of the Year. The Sacramento-based company is the world’s largest producer of almonds and almond ingredients.

Podcasts

Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

FSMA Audit

What is the is most important step you have taken to become ready for a FSMA audit?
View Results Poll Archive

Food Engineering

FE September 2014

2014 September

The September 2014 issue of Food Engineering explores how lean manufacturing, quality improvements and increased automation helps processors meet rapidly changing demands. Also, read how robotics, advanced machine controls, software and OEE are just a few of the tools that can boost productivity on packaging lines.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE FOOD ENGINEERING STORE

Food-Authentication-Flyer-(.gif
Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit www.foodmaster.com to learn more.

STAY CONNECTED

FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +