From Sugar Beets to Spandex

March 14, 2016
Dried, broken cornstalks stand in a harvested field.

U of M researchers have engineered cost-effective ways to turn agricultural waste like cornstalks, sugar beet pulp, and orange peels into chicken feed and even spandex.

The team modified bacteria to produce a key chemical by a simpler, cheaper route. The microbes can then turn the chemical, called DOP, into ingredients of chicken feed.

The team also engineered a simpler, cheaper way to turn DOP into a chemical that is widely used in making spandex, and with a markedly increased yield.

The new processes will be better for the environment—and bottom lines.