A new bio-manufacturing plant is planned in Sac County, near Odebolt, to make a product called “CornBoard.”
Corn stover — the stalks, leaves, husks and tassels left over after the corn kernels are harvested — will be turned into a wood substitute.
The plant is a joint project of CornBoard Manufacturing Incorporated and McMahon Engineering and Architecture. Sac County Economic Development and Tourism Executive Director Brandy Ripley helped recruit the company.
“They take the underutilized biomass material from corn stover and they turn that into greenwood alternatives made from biomass,” she says. “Specifically, at our location, they’re going to make pallets.”
According to the CEO of Corn Board Manufacturing, the company’s wood substitute is lighter and performs as well or better than traditional wooden pallets. Sac County’s Economic Development Director says the company will buy bales of corn stover from local farmers.
“Just to have that extra little small added benefit to our farming communities since we’re such a big ag area is just absolutely amazing to me and what’s also amazing is all the things they can make out of the product,” she says. “I mean, just besides pallets, you’re looking at any pressed wood product — pallets, furniture, plywood, alternative skis, snowboards, building materials — I mean, you name it, so it’s going to be kind of interesting to see how this changes not just our area but everywhere with a new product like this.”
The 50,000 square foot plant will be located about a mile west of Odebolt on Highway 175. The company hopes to begin construction next year. Ripley says the company plans to between 25 and 30 people working in the plant once it’s up and running, plus the demand for corn stover from area farmers will be high. She says there are two pyramids of corn stover bales marking the entrance to the plant site.
“To put it into perspective, they have 3,000 round bales to start with,” Ripley says, “and that’s only a fraction of what they’re going to need.”
CornBoard is a trademarked product — developed and patented by researchers at the University of Illinois.
(By Nathan Konz, KCIM, Carroll)