The Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center (OBIC) at The Ohio State University is a research initiative that integrates academia and industry toward the development of renewable specialty chemicals, polymers/plastics and advanced materials. The Center was funded in 2005 by the Ohio Department of Development through an $11.5 million Wright Center of Innovation (Third Frontier) award, leveraged with matching funds from external partners.
As a major manufacturing state, Ohio is a significant user of energy and materials. Ohio farmers and agri-business can produce and convert biomass to supply major portions of this material demand as a substitute for petroleum based feedstock. To enhance Ohio’s position as a leader in bioproducts innovation, OBIC fosters the discovery and use of new technologies via a market needs model, thereby accelerating bioproducts commercialization.
OBIC’s main focus of activity is to accelerate the commercialization of Ohio’s bio-based products to be adopted for use as replacements for petroleum based products. The goal is to provide a material flow of Ohio agriculture resources such as corn, soy, and agriculture/industrial waste products and convert them into bio-based materials for the polymer, bio-chemical, and agriculture industries. To accomplish this, OBIC identifies gaps in the bioproducts supply chain and fills those gaps.
Dennis Hall and Shannon Hollis of the Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center demonstrate two biopolymer based products: a mug made of poly-lactic acid and a soy-based spray.
Another area of focus is to help companies research and develop new bio-based products by providing financial assistance through grants from Ohio’s Third Frontier program, technical expertise, and support from organizations such as Battelle, PolymerOhio, Ohio Soybean Council, and others. The end result is the growth and success of these new business ventures and the creation of new jobs in Ohio.
Ohio has several major manufacturers of tires and rubber products which create a high demand for natural rubber. The supply of natural rubber is dependent on importation from foreign sources. In fact, 100% of all natural rubber in the USA is imported from other countries. Demand is high for natural rubber, which results in premium prices for natural rubber.
Natural rubber is made by the “Russian dandelion,” Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS), which is being domesticated at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). This plant produces high-quality natural rubber in its fleshy taproot. Its performance mirrors the natural rubber produced from Hevea brasiliensis (the Brazilian rubber tree). The state’s rubber industry has been negatively impacted by a natural rubber supply shortage as well as the price volatility of petroleum raw materials for synthetic rubber production. There is a strategic need to develop viable alternative natural rubber sources for the state of Ohio and for our nation.
A collaboration involving The Ohio State University, the University of Akron, Oregon State University, Cooper Tire, and Bridgestone Americas has received a $3 million Third Frontier Wright Projects Program grant through the Ohio Department of Development to develop a new industry based on this renewable, domestic source of natural rubber. This industry will produce more than $130 million in total revenues and create 165 jobs in Ohio in the near term in the state’s agricultural and rubber-products sectors. In the longer term, a new industry centered in Ohio will expand to address this very important national need. Most of the funding is targeted to building a pilot-scale processing facility on OARDC’s Wooster campus that will generate 20 metric tons of rubber per year for industrial testing.
Another Ohio based bioproduct comes from The Andersons’ Advanced Granule Technology, which includes soil-dispersing granules that dissolve into the soil when moistened, foliar granules that stick to leaf surfaces, and foaming granules. These crop management technologies, which deliver active ingredients, are being developed to precisely deliver desired herbicides, pesticides and nutrients. The Andersons have collaborated with The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., PSB Company, and National Lime and Stone Company to research and develop new applications. These efforts are supported by an Ohio Third Frontier Research and Commercialization Program (OTFRCP) grant.
Originally, the Anderson’s granule delivery system was targeted for use within the golf industry. “The grant has allowed our collaborative team to go beyond golf course applications and include horticulture—namely nurseries, floriculture, food (fruits and vegetables), and commodity crops (soy, wheat),” says Chuck Anderson. Success of the OTFRCP is projected to result in over 100 new jobs and create over $300 million in revenue for the state by 2015.
OBIC’s overall driver is to create Ohio based jobs using Ohio based bio resources. This process is named Cell to Sell™ and was created by OBIC. OBIC provides value to industry partners through a market-pull business model designed to link technology and product development for the commercialization of bioproducts. For more information about OBIC and the services they provide, please contact:
Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center
OSU, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
Room 152 Howlett Hall
2001 Fyffe Court
Columbus, OH 43210
Marlin Linger, MS, MBA
Columbus ACS Web Page Feature Editor and Supporter of BioOhio.
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