Official Nebraska Government Website

New Uses

Creating new demand through new uses for corn.

Researchers are learning that almost anything that can be made from a barrel of oil can be made from corn. That means corn is replacing petroleum to make thousands of products more environmentally friendly, including paint, paper products, glues, toothpaste, cleaners, fireworks, chemicals and laundry dryer sheets.


With the help of research supported by corn checkoff dollars, corn-based materials like bioplastics and fabrics are a reality today. In fact, they are turning up in more and more places – compostable tableware, food containers, drink cups, gift cards, snack chip bags, bedding, carpet, shirts and more. All of these products are made from renewable corn and directly replace products made from petroleum.

NatureWorks LLC, based in Blair, Nebraska, is one of the companies that makes raw materials for all these products. Others include Mirel Bioplastics (owned by ADM and Metabolix) and DuPont Tate & Lyle BioProducts.


Consider Corn Challenge

The Consider Corn Challenge, a nationwide initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, invites innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and academics to redefine the role of corn and explore the broad horizon of opportunity for corn as a feedstock for making sustainable chemicals.

Today’s sustainably produced, consistent supply of renewable corn makes it an optimal resource to drive research and accelerate society’s shift to a thriving bio-based community.

The Consider Corn Challenge is focused on projects that:

  • Use components of the corn kernel as primary feedstock
  • Have a clear path for scale-up to commercial scale
  • Enable a new market for corn
    • Should not detract from an existing corn market
    • Should lead to products with significant market demand
  • Involve a team with experience taking a process or plan from lab scale to commercial scale

Presidential Chair at UNL

Nebraska corn checkoff funds have established the Nebraska Corn Checkoff Presidential Chair at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln – a faculty position dedicated to the development of new products and new processes to optimize corn usage. Dr. Mark Wilkins was appointed to this post at UNL. As director of the Industrial Agricultural Products Center, he works to build new partnerships across campus and with industry to develop new and innovative products that add value to agricultural crops.