The many ethanol and bio-diesel plants springing up across Iowa produce not only alternative fuels but also a quantity of byproducts left over in their processing of raw materials. A study of how to use those leftovers is underway at the University of Northern Iowa, where Lou Honary is director of the national Ag-Based Lubricant Center.

The good news, he says, is that everybody’s aware the byproducts are a problem and there’s interest in looking into their possible uses for something else. “The better news is that we’re looking at areas where we can really get good money for those byproducts,” he says. And in the long run, he adds, it’ll increase the value of the fuel processing industry and help spur more growth and expansion.

To do that, Honary has a 125-thousand-dollar grant from the Iowa legislature, to create economically-viable products from the renewable-fuel industry’s waste. That grant will help look at two major byproducts — a residual corn oil left over from making ethanol, and cholesterin left over after soybeans are made into soy diesel. He thinks they’re going to come up with “some exciting new opportunity.” Some of the uses could include industrial greases, dust-suppressants, or materials to coat concrete forms, so the molded pieces can be easily removed.