CEDAR FALLS, Iowa-- The foundry industry often uses sand binders as molds for metal casting despite the harmful emissions they produce. The University of Northern Iowa's Center for Advanced Bio-based Binders (CABB) has been working to develop innovative binders made from renewable agricultural feedstocks, which significantly reduce pollution.
According to Jerry Thiel, director of UNI's Metal Casting Center, CABB works to develop polymers (natural or synthetic materials such as plastics) based on agricultural or natural materials as opposed to those based on oil. "The ultimate goal of CABB is to reduce the United State's dependence on foreign oil by offering bio-alternatives," said Thiel.
CABB has had success using corn to create polymers, which has a very low environmental impact and greatly reduces green house emissions. In addition to the environmental advantages of bio-based binders, the foundry industry also benefits from having more effective and lower-cost products. Additionally, bio-based binders provide a new market for agricultural materials.
Scott Giese, associate professor of industrial technology at UNI said the CABB program also offers practical hands-on experience for students. "The CABB initiatives support the academic components of the manufacturing technology program at UNI and provide experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students," said Giese. "We currently have about 10 students working for the CABB."
The UNI Metal Casting Center is a nationally recognized leader in foundry research, applied technology and technical business assistance. Funding for the center comes from the state and federal government along with contract research from private industry.