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Thinking outside the box: Researchers make cat litter from spent grains

PEORIA, Ill.—Here’s the scoop: A U.S. Department of Agriculture research team has shown that cat litter made with spent grains left over from ethanol production might offer a more environmentally friendly product than non-biodegradable litters.

USDA plant physiologist Steven F. Vaughn and colleagues in the department’s Agricultural Research Service tested dried distiller’s grains, or DDGs, to create a litter that’s nearly 100 percent biodegradable. The grains they used were left over from production of corn ethanol; such grains currently are marketed for use as cattle feed. The research team treated the grains with glycerol to minimize dust when the litter is poured or pawed, guar gum to promote clumping when the litter gets wet, and a small amount of copper sulfate for odor control.

According to the USDA, the idea of using grains to make eco-friendly cat litter is not new, but Vaughn’s team might be the first to do an extensive study of the practice and make their findings public.

Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, said it is “ideal” to have useful renewable products that are derivatives of ethanol production. “It’s great that researchers continue to find new uses for agricultural commodities and co-products like DDGs. This research may ultimately launch other new absorbent products.”

Media: Contact Banks at 804-290-1114.

Posted in: Miscellaneous


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