Adding value to cattle byproducts
By Michael Fielding on 8/22/2011
A Canadian researcher and his colleagues have filed a patent for a new thermal process that converts protein from bovine byproducts into plastics.
Using the throwaway parts of beef carcasses that were sidelined from the value-added production process after bovine spongiform encephalopathy devastated the industry in 2003, David Bressler, an associate professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science, has collaborated with industry, government and other researchers to forge cattle proteins into heavy-duty plastics.
Using high temperatures, the proteins are broken into small pieces then cross-linked to other protein molecules to create a network that forms a rigid structure.
The plastics from Bressler’s lab are being tested by The Woodbridge group, a car parts manufacturer, and researchers are examining the possibility of mixing the plastics with renewable fibers such as hemp to create high-strength materials that may be used in building structural supports.