Here is a simple idea I originated in 1999 that could easily save hundreds or thousands of farmers from going bankrupt, significantly increasing the price of corn and the value of U.S. crop exports, and reducing oil imports at the same time by as much as 5 billion dollars a year. This concept could cause a very respectable correction in the U.S. National Trade deficit.
This document was circulated around to farmers, ag dealers, farm bureaus, and farm implement dealers within a general 50 mile radius of Harmony, MN (SE Minnesota) in April, May, and June of 2000. This was the first time anyone who received it had heard of the concept.
Prior to this, in November, 1999, I talked with the owner of Boos Implements, just north of the intersection of Iowa Highway 9 and U.S. 63 (west of Cresco, Iowa), as well as the operators of the ethanol plant in Preston, Minnesota, regarding the idea. This was the first time either of these had ever heard of the concept, and six months later, when I distributed the printed version shown below, it was the second time either of these two had ever heard of the concept.
In other words, every farmer within a 50 mile radius of SE Minnesota, especially those in the western and southern sectors, knows full well that I am the one who originated this concept, and this can be easily verified.
Foamed corn, or popped popcorn, can replace almost every current existing use of Styrofoam. Even a retard can follow this principle, since everyone has seen and eaten a popcorn ball.
For the multi-billion dollar a year shipping and packing materials industry, it cannot be difficult to visualize that popcorn balls could easily replace Styrofoam shipping 'peanuts', and that larger forms of molded popcorn could replace larger Styrofoam shipping forms.
Another multi-billion dollar per year industry is the manufacture of restaurant and fast food takeout boxes. Although many fast food establishments have gone away from using Styrofoam because of environmental and patriotic concerns, almost all restaurant take out boxes are still being made of Styrofoam. . These can be replaced with molded popcorn or foamed corn.
Another multi-billion dollar per year industry is the manufacture of the little Styrofoam trays that come underneath a chicken or a steak or a pound of hamburger at the supermarket. These can also be replaced with molded popcorn or foamed corn.
Styrofoam is made from imported oil. It take Styrofoam 10,000 years to degrade in a landfill.
Molded popcorn or foamed corn is made of domestic corn, and is biodegradable. If you buy a pound of hamburger or a chicken on a molded corn tray, the tray can be fed to the dog, or put down the In-Sinkerator.
The original document makes reference only to foamed corn, since it appears that this would have advantages over using popcorn, but the basic principles are the same for both.
Popcorn can be popped, ground up into eighth of an inch average size particles, sprayed with a milk or corn oil or egg based glue, molded into shape or sprayed on a mold, and then run through an oven, much like the hamburger conveyor belt at a fast food restaurant to cure the glue. If a waterproof form is required, there is an additional step of spraying the molded pieces with corn oil, and then running them past an open flame again to glaze the oil.
If this concept were put to use, it could easily cause a 5 billion, 10 billion, or an even greater improvement in the U.S balance of trade. We pay out the nose for imported foreign oil, while the value of our crop exports is significantly underpriced.
This concept reduces the demand for foreign oil, which automatically lowers the price of oil, thereby reducing the amount of our imports, while at the same time it takes domestic corn out of the international marketplace, which creates additional demand (by moving more towards a shortage or corn rather than a surplus as it is now) and increases the price of corn, thereby increasing the value of our exports. The amount of imports decreases, and the value of exports increases.
Very few Styrofoam items could not be duplicated with foamed or molded corn, the Nerfball might be one of the rare examples. The other 99 percent of the Styrofoam market can be obliterated by the use of foamed or molded corn. The Styrofoam market is into the tens of billions of dollars a year, or hundreds worldwide. The latter indicates that the amount, and not just the value, or U.S. crop exports can be increased, because the price of exported corn can double, and foamed or molded corn will still be cheaper than Styrofoam. This means that we should be able to increase exports based on a greater worldwide demand for corn for use in foamed corn and molded corn operations and uses in other countries.
The word STYROFOAM has two meanings. One, it is the commonly accepted lexacal term for beaded lightweight plastic.
I'll let Dow Chemical explain the other meaning:
First, a Few Facts
STYROFOAM is a registered trademark for a line of extruded polystyrene products made exclusively by Dow. STYROFOAM brand products are primarily blue in color, and the exception is in the floral and craft markets, where STYROFOAM brand plastic foam is white or green.
STYROFOAM brand plastic foam is not used in the manufacture of fast food packaging, meat and egg trays, cups, plates, coolers or packaging fill. These disposable foam products are made of either molded expanded polystyrene beads or of thin extruded foam polystyrene sheet, neither of which is STYROFOAM nor manufactured by Dow in North America.
This was taken from: http://www.styrofoam-crafts.com/about/index.htm
If the word STYROFOAM is used in this document, it refers to the general colliquial use of the word, not to Dow's trademarked product. The use of the word STYROFOAM should be taken to mean molded expanded polystyrene beads or of thin extruded foam polystyrene sheet, not Dow's trademarked product.
If you were directed to only read the first part of this page, this is the point where you should stop reading and return to the previous page.
Here is the document in nearly its original form:
This document contains information relevant and useful for farmers and non farmers alike. Non-farmers may wish to skip to page 11 to read non-farm related information, but it is recommended that you read all of this document. It is highly recommended that you read these documents once, think it over for a while, and then re-read them, because of the large amount of information, some of which is complex, which is contained herein.
Realize profits of up to $50 a bushel on as much as 10 percent of your corn crop
I am not selling anything. Any price you might have paid for this material is solely to cover basic time, printing, and distribution costs. I just dont like having to witness thousands of small family farmers going bankrupt because of low crop prices and their farms bought up cheaply by huge faceless corporations. If I wanted to see farmers being reduced to peasants and serfs on some huge farm collective, Id move to Russia or Poland. The farm economy has always been a main part of the economic backbone of America. The U.S. manufacturing economy has already suffered serious losses, and I would prefer not to see the same thing happen to the U.S. farm economy. For example, no televisions are manufactured in America today. Because of government regulatory moronity like the Gestapo EPA and OSHA and uncontrolled Union greed, Zenith closed down the last U. S. television manufacturing plant in Springfield, Missouri in 1992, and moved the operation to Mexico.
From what Ive seen of the low crop prices over the last few years, the government either doesnt have the brains to deal with the current farm problems, or more likely, wants to make money via the corporations that want to buy up all the bankrupt farmers farms. Maybe foreigners took over, and neglected to tell us. A moron could see the need to revoke the Freedom to Farm Act, restore crop production limits, and get rid of the milk pricing scheme, the main causes of most of the current farm problems in the Midwest, but the government doesnt seem to be in any big hurry to do this. Thousands of farmers have already gone bankrupt in the last few years, and more likely will this year. If anyone makes a chump out of you, it wont be me. I figure that my giving you this information only serves my duty as an American.
If the farm economy suffers, the facts prove that my wallet will suffer, even though Im not a farmer, so maybe I do have some personal economic interest. My uncle farms 1000 acres in North central Iowa and Southern Minnesota (look for three circles on the satellite picture of the IA / MN border, his three circular irrigators), so I know some of the basics of it. If you are grateful for this information and you want to make a donation, I wont turn you down. I could use it, but this promotion isnt for my own profit. I am not selling anything, and have no financial interests in any equipment or products you might end up purchasing. I may have some other financial and personal interests in this, and my position might eventually be greatly improved as a result of the use of this information, but I have no direct interest.
I want to promote some other issues besides making more money farming, but Ill run these alternative uses for corn past you first. That will establish some credibility, and then you may find these other issues interesting, to say the least. I have also included some information on silver poisoning. You will never let a dentist install a silver dental filling again in your childs mouth after you read it. There is other information regarding the potential of a new political movement, which you will be likely to want to support. This political party doesnt field candidates, exercising its power through initiative and referendum instead.
But first, lets deal with you making more money from a bushel of corn.
This document will give you the basic details of how to set up very low start up cost product manufacturing operations on your farm or in a local farmer cooperative, making and selling new corn-based (and perhaps bean-based) products for which there is a definite and respectable local and national demand. These products can be made from the complete corn plant, cobs, leaves, stems, and kernels.
Depending on your ambitions, your initial investment in equipment (assuming you have access to a basic machine shop or shed) start up costs will range from $200 to $1500, perhaps more if you have a great local demand for your products. Farmers cooperatives will have a larger investment and profit.
These products could easily allow the reopening of the recently closed Sara Lee plant in New Hampton, Iowa. With help from the Iowa government, this could occur in an accelerated manner.
These products are based on corn that is pulverized, treated, and then foamed to a high expansion ratio. The first example is foamed corn insulation, given the proper additives to make it resistant to rodents, insects, and children. Other uses like packing materials and egg and food cartons will be described afterward. Many of these other uses are far more valuable than insulation, but insulation will de described first in order to provide some basics and background.
Depending on your location, 2-inch thick 4 x 8 foot sheets of Styrofoam insulation sell at local building centers for $5 to $15 each.
As many as (40) 2 inch by 4 foot by 8 foot insulation sheets may be produced from a single bushel of corn. A very large foam expansion ratio can be realized, using combinations of yeast and additives combined with the application of low pressure or vacuum during the manufacturing. The expansion ratio should be far greater than for popped popcorn because popcorn has a very fine cell structure, and in foamed corn, the individual foam cells will be much larger. Examine Old Dutchs Puffcorn Curls ®. These have a much coarser cell structure than popcorn. I worked at the Old Dutch factory in Minneapolis for a time and witnessed the manufacture of Puffcorn Curls. Yeast and low pressure are not used in their manufacture. Using yeast and low air pressures, it is realistic to assume that a foam expansion ratio ten or even fifteen times as great as seen in Puffcorn Curls can be had from the same amount of corn.
Dont let the price of Puffcorn Curls fool you. They have to be made under sterile conditions using tightly controlled manufacturing processes using food grade materials and equipment. They use expensive preprocessed materials like cornstarch and food grade oils. About a third of their manufacturing labor costs go toward regularly cleaning and sterilizing the equipment. They have huge building and equipment costs. They have a large sales force and a large accounting department. Im pretty sure they pay Union wages. (I only worked there through a temporary employment agency for a week making potato chips.) These factors result in much higher costs for the Puffcorn Curls product than a non-food grade corn product
Retailing at $5 each, 40 foamed corn insulation panels would be worth $200, assuming a profit of $100 for the retailer, and $90 for the manufacturer assuming a $10 local shipping costs for the 20 sheets.
That's a very realistic $60 minimum per bushel of processed corn, assuming $30 for miscellaneous costs such as additives and fuel or electricity for heating. If a farmer does the manufacturing his or herself then $10 for miscellaneous costs per 40 sheets is more likely. If a farmer's cooperative using hired labor creates the panels, then the $30 for miscellaneous costs per 40 sheets is more likely.
There is a large local market for this insulation. Other potential local markets may exist for farmers located near manufacturers of refrigeration units and refrigerated semi trailers, and manufacturers of mobile and premanufactured homes. It can be used as insulation fill inside refrigerators and home stereo speakers. I dont have immediate access to the actual figures, but quarterly domestic sales figures for insulation are likely to be found in the Wall Street Journal.
Styrofoam is made from petroleum products, which are mostly imported. For every billion dollars of foreign oil imports, we lose 20,000 to 30,000 U. S. jobs. The U. S. imports 40 to 80 billion dollars annually. Vast amounts of Styrofoam are used in the U. S. for various purposes, and corn can replace most of these uses.
Certain types and uses of Styrofoam, such as fast food Styrofoam containers, have been banned in many counties, because they take up large amounts of space in landfills, and are not biodegradable. If an acceptable substitute for Styrofoam exists, you stand an excellent chance of getting these uses of Styrofoam legally banned in your county, regardless that you have a vested interest. Manufacturing of foam shipping / packing materials, foam egg cartons, foam plates / cups / bowls, and foam fast food containers will be described later in this document. All of these can replace Styrofoam products.
Even without getting Styrofoam banned in your county, foamed corn insulation has other competitive advantages. One is a lower price.
Another is ease of use and cleanup. It is highly likely that the right additives can be found so that the foam lacks Styrofoam's irritating static electricity, and so it would not shed hundreds of small particles when it is cut like Styrofoam does. It should not be difficult or expensive to manufacture foamed corn that possesses this characteristic, and if so it can sell for the same price as Styrofoam, and no one will buy Styrofoam because no one likes to try to clean up Styrofoam particles. Another advantage may lie in selling cut center size based sheets rather than 4 x 8 foot sheets. For example, selling the 4 x 8 sheets, but also selling precut 16, 18, 20 and 24 inch by 8 foot sheets for use between studs with 16, 18, 20, 24 inch spacings, and offering custom sizes on demand.
Let me explain the difference between Research and Development and experimentation. R&D usually involves people with expensive degrees, usually hired by the government, who wear monkey suits, charge large salaries, and extend the R&D project for as long as possible in order to extend their incomes. Experimentation, on the other hand, is done by an individual in a garage who is paid nothing unless the result of their experimentation pays off.
I dont have all the answers and details when it comes to this proposal. There will have to be some experimentation done in order to find the correct additives to make the insulation non-attractive to rodents, insects, and children. I concluded that many people experimenting individually would be a far better alternative to one man's efforts, and so I am promoting this basic concept as it is now.
The actual experimentation that must be done is neither difficult nor expensive. It is a question of a simple desired result. Buy mice and rats from a pet store or research supplier (like colleges and universities do) or trap live wild rats and mice on your farm, and use these for the purposes of the experimentation. Trapped wild ones would be preferable, as they are likely to be much hardier than the ones found in pet stores.
When the rats and mice would rather die of starvation than eat the insulation samples you offer them, then your experimentation has been successful. The same approach applies to insects. Your children will likely trap all the insects you want, and enjoy it so much they dont even ask for an increase in their allowance.
Start with a demonstration. Take a piece of bread and let it dry out. After it sits for a week, many mice and rats would rather die than eat it. Make the bread with rotten eggs instead of fresh eggs, and the mice and rats will choose starvation every time. To avoid significant investment, use homemade corn tostados or taco shells made out of cornmeal and your additives for your initial experiments.
Rotten eggs contain repugnant (although non-toxic) and offensive sulfur compounds. Given the low price of eggs, and that the average farmer is willing to put up with far worse smells (hog farms), and that the exposure to the offensive smell would not be continuous, I expect that rotten eggs will be a standard additive. After the panels are air-cured for a week, almost all of the offensive smell will disappear, but the evil taste will still present itself to any animal or human that tries to eat it. Only the volatile sulfur compounds will evaporate, the rest will remain. Wood tannin is another likely potential additive. This can be obtained cheaply from sawdust, if you have a local sawmill. Ask a botanist at a local college or university or Ag extension about plants that repel insects and animals. You might wish to cultivate a small crop of these types of plants for use as additives. If I remember correctly, there are many plants that have only a few predators. For example, milkweed is usually only bothered by Monarch butterflies and a few aquatic based life forms. If you have a cow pond, you might farm milkweed for use as an additive.
Anything foamed is an excellent insulator, even foamed concrete, so there is no question that this insulation will have an excellent R rating.
Arrange for a tour of a plastics injection molding factory. Most cities have at least one of these factories. Ask to be allowed to examine the cleaning of the plastic flash recycling machines. These are usually cleaned once or twice per shift. A high volume job shop manufacturer will usually have one of these machines broken down for cleaning. A similar machine would be perfect for smashing the corn cobs and kernels into tiny pieces, and such machines can be fabricated by the average farmer's machine shop. The machine uses a rotating cylinder with protrusions that act as bludgeons to smash the plastic into tiny pieces, with a small clearance between the cylinder and a screen that passes the particles when they have been broken down to the specified size.
I don't need to explain fine grinding processes, since most farmers are familiar with these. If you have a stream nearby to use to power a water wheel grinding mill, use it.
One other concern that needs to be addressed by experimentation is fungus and mold. The one potential drawback to foamed corn insulation would be that it might be attacked by fungus or mold if it gets wet. Place moldy bread, cheese, or other food on top of wet insulation and wait to see what happens.
Any potentially viable mix that passes the rodent and insect tests should be made into experimental small foam panels (perhaps 16 inch by 2 inch by 12 inch) and subjected to a series of intense humidity and temperature tests under simulated or actual conditions.
To speed up testing, summer conditions can be simulated in winter or vice versa. For example, take an old upright freezer and make a replacement door for it, using 2 by 4s on 16 inch centers, some old siding for one surface, and drywall for the other surface with the insulation installed inside. Make the panel reversible, held in place by contact only, a close fit between it and the door opening. Install some insulation inside the panel using a vapor barrier and some without the barrier. The insulation should be intentionally wetted down occasionally, and subjected to alternating extremes of temperature, reversing the panel at two hour intervals or as time and resources permit.
The testing should be done for at least 6 months, preferably for a year, even using simulated conditions with many heating and cooling cycles per day. I realize this is a considerable investment in time, but it needs to be done. Resist the urge to open the panel to check the insulation during this time, or use two freezers and check only one of them.
When it comes to making money, everybody is impatient. Some of the other approaches to using foamed corn detailed elsewhere in this document allow you to start making money almost immediately. It stands to reason that a farmer or a cooperative, for tax, legal and economic protection would want to organize and operate as a closely held corporation in case there were future litigation over a defective product.
It would be better to do enough research to prevent the need for such litigation. If you produce a defective product that rots away in five years, you wont get a second chance to come up with an improved foam formula, because your reputation will have been destroyed. Be sure you know the basics of potential moisture problems and their potential solutions, such as vapor barriers, beforehand. Your car gets wet when it cools down in the evening from moisture that condenses out of the atmosphere. A similar type of condensation can occur on the surfaces of insulation.
There is a commercially available mold retardant, Nystatin ®. An example of its use is seen in packages of Kraft shredded cheese as a means of preventing mold from gaining a foothold. Read a bag of Kraft cheese, and it is listed among the ingredients, so you know that it has been approved for use in food. (Now if we could only get them to put it inside loaves of bread ) There are likely other anti-fungal / anti-mold agents that have been approved for that use. If experimentation shows that wet insulation can be attacked by mold, then some percentage of Nystatin or another mold retardant should be added during production. In addition, potential buyers should be warned to use a vapor barrier when installing the insulation. Installing a vapor barrier is common practice nowadays when installing any type of insulation, but is not always used.
Since you dont have a crystal ball, and you want your product to last for as long as possible, perhaps as much as 150 years, it would be wise to add Nystatin even if experimentation over the span of a year does not reveal an obvious need for it. Fungus (and probably some types of bacteria) will also be prevented by Nystatin.
It is not likely that bacteria will pose any problem unless the insulation is kept wet for extended periods. Experimentation needs to be done here. Weight down some panels and carve identifiers into them. Then submerge the panels in a nearby cow pond, removing three or four panels after 5 days, the others after 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 days, and check for bacteria and fungus damage. Resubmerge the 5 day test panels in different stages of drying out for different lengths of time. See how well the panels stand up to being repeatedly submerged for 5 and 15 day periods.
Based on the results of this experimentation, if there is the potential for problems with bacteria, mold, and fungus after prolonged contact with water, then a warning must be posted to potential buyers that the use of foamed corn insulation is not recommended in any building project which is to be located on a flood plain or areas known for flooding problems, or in a basement in an area which has a history of basement flooding problems.
Other potential additives are available, such as BHT and the other common food preservatives. Nystatin and these other food grade additives are not expensive, especially when bought in commercial quantities. Other non-food grade additives may be available, but there is likely to be little or no difference in price. Other potential additives might be sodium phosphate or pyrophosphate, salt, sodium bicarbonate, and pepper. If you ever noticed that salsa will rarely mold, its because of the Jalepeno peppers it contains. You might want to grow a crop of evil Serrano peppers.
The product advertising at the local building center should make reference to the advantages of the use of foamed corn in improving Americas economic interests through reducing imports and keeping the local and farm economies healthy. In many cases, this should make the difference between someone choosing all Styrofoam, and choosing corn for the top levels and Styrofoam for their basement. Of course, if the panels sell for a little less than Styrofoam or fiberglass, many people would do this anyway.
In an instance where you have a buyer that needs a constant supply of insulation panels, such as a manufacturer of refrigerated semi trailers, walk-in coolers, or prefabricated housing or mobile homes, you should get them to supply you with a list of the sizes of panels they will need, and you can custom manufacture the panels for them. This has two advantages. One is that the buyer gets custom sized panels, eliminating the need for cutting and waste. The other advantage is that panels that will not be cut can be further treated against mold, by spraying them very lightly with a fine mist of heated corn or other oil which has been treated with Nystatin and then searing the oil with high temperature. Panels sold in pre-sized widths that are sold to building centers for use between studs in home insulation can also be treated this way. While the widths are standardized, the height will still usually have to be cut to custom size, so instructions should be given to the buyer to install the cut end facing up and to use a vapor barrier.
Make a deal with a plastic garbage bag manufacturer to produce inexpensive vapor barrier sheets for use between studs. These should measure something like 30 inches by 8 1/2 feet, and be about the same thickness as a decent quality plastic garbage bag. Whether the builder has studs with 16 or 24 inch centers, these sheets will not need to be cut. The buyer would be given instructions to place the plastic around the cut panel, covering the side of the panel facing towards the exterior of the house and back around the top of the panel, wrapping the excess length and width around the bottom and sides, and then slipping the panel between the studs. The sheets should be made available to the buyer at the building center and not cost more than 5 cents each.
I envision the basic process as this: a bushel of corn (plus the cobs) is broken up, ground down, mixed with the additives and yeast, and perhaps some detergent to give the foam greater stability. This mix is violently whipped into a froth, and the froth is overflowed into a 4 x 8 foot wide, 7 foot high container to a depth of 18 inches.
A 4 x 8 foot lid with an airtight rubber seal is then placed on top of the container, and about one third of the air is removed. This should cause the foam to expand to twice its previous volume. After it sits for a period of time, perhaps an hour, to let the yeast cause a further expansion, another third or so of the original air volume is removed, which should bring the height of the mass of foam up to around 80 inches.
Then heat is applied to the entire container to cure the mass into its final form. A closed air system slowly circulates the remaining air in the container to remove the moisture released by the curing. An inexpensive example of such a capability is commonly found in water removal devices for compressed air systems and air compressors. If your air compressor doesnt have one installed to remove water from your air lines, ask your local mechanic.
There will be some minor reduction in the size of the block when the atmospheric pressure is restored, but nothing significant, because the foam will be cured into its final form. The finished foam will suffer far less reduction in size if the pressure is restored very slowly, perhaps over the span of an hour, because the individual foam cells within the form will be slightly permeable, able to pass air, but only very slowly.
After the block is removed, it is cut with a bandsaw equipped with a high tension razor edge blade into individual 4 by 8 foot 2 inch thick sheets.
If I were to manufacture the container, and I had the resources, I might choose new aluminum or used steel panels with rubber seals, so that two opposing walls could be opened to expose and push out the large finished block of insulation. Concrete would be less expensive, but more difficult to seal, heat, and work with in general.
Of course, it can and should be done a lot less expensively. Rather than using a custom made container to do the manufacturing, used pickup truck beds from a junkyard or certain old farm implement trailer beds can be acquired and modified inexpensively to serve as foam manufacturing containers.
Even an old rusted pickup truck bed can be reinforced and sealed with fiberglass to serve as a form. You should have no problem bringing your own torch to a junkyard and getting as many rusted pickup truck beds as are available for 15 or 20 dollars each. Cut the fender walls out and replace them with fiberglass, and with a few other minor fiberglass alterations the truck bed will serve as a perfect form for the task at hand. In cases where the bed is less than 8 feet long, use two from the same model of truck and weld them together back to back. An investment of $600 or $700 could well leave you with 15 or 20 manufacturing forms, each capable of making ten 4 x 8 foot 2 inch thick sheets, a total of 150 to 200 sheets per cycle.
It might be cheapest to make the lids out of galvanized steel siding, adding welded steel crossbeams for strength so the lid won't collapse when the air pressure is removed, perhaps adding sand in the grooves of the siding and then sealing the sand inside with fiberglass for additional strength. It may well make economic sense to make the entire form this way, using flexible airtight plastic hinges, and simply unfold it to remove the finished foam blocks.
The airtight rubber seal can be as simple as automotive 3 / 8 inch diameter rubber hose glued into a groove that runs around the lid that mates with another groove on top of the truck bed. . You would get a better seal if you put water or oil into the groove on the truck bed before mating the lid, and inflated the hose slightly after the lid is on.
You have to seal the ends of the corrugations airtight, fiberglass the perimeter of the lid into a flat surface, and make the groove for the rubber hose in the fiberglass. If you want flat panels, put sand in the grooves in the panels, and it is easy to fiberglass a flat surface over the top of the metal and sand.
If you want to save manufacturing equipment investment and heating costs, you might want to be able to tolerate a little waste, where there are leftover unusable pieces after trimming and cutting. You might want to do this intentionally, and use the flash (the unused pieces) as fuel to provide the curing heat. For example, if the truck bed floor is corrugated, leave it that way, and cut the bottom piece that has the ridges off and use it for fuel.
Who knows, if this was done nationwide, using the flash for fuel might take enough corn off the market to drive the market price up 5 cents a bushel. If a mold release agent were needed, you would use corn oil, not silicone spray.
Blown foam insulation can also be produced. There are so many different approaches that at least one should become apparent to you if you consider how to approach its manufacture long enough. This is a case where the basic principle is valid, and it is better to have many people seeking different solutions than just one man.
For a coop, an assembly line that deposits small foam balls on the moving conveyor belt, and had moving low pressure chambers that follow the belt, come down on top of the balls, apply low pressure and rapidly cook them would be one approach. There is a speed to foam expansion ratio here, because if the air pressure is returned too fast, it will partially collapse the foam balls. The length and speed of the conveyor belt are the determining factors.
Of course, this is just one example of an approach, and there are many different approaches to be tried. Having foam balls travel through low pressure inside long lengths of heated PVC pipe might be another approach, but a potential problem there is that a foam ball may become stuck inside a pipe. It could be blown out with high air pressure, or the pipes internally cleaned with a robot that travels inside, but it would mean downtime. The balls could be directly seared with open flame upon introduction to the first (metal) part of the pipes to keep them from sticking, but this may not be 100 percent effective. A system to inject one ball at a time into the first pipe (removing the air pressure as it does so) at a high rate of speed could be constructed. Gravity and airflow would move the balls through the pipes from the entry at the top to the bottom. If sticking inside the pipes can be prevented, this type of system would produce foam balls at an impressive rate of speed. See the section on foamed corn shipping materials for a better.
Other approaches might manufacture the small foam balls or particles on-site, where the insulation was being applied, but that would depend on the additives, whether the smell of the applied foam was offensive.
In some cases, it might be preferable to glue foam balls together into sheets.
Either small sized foam balls or shredded foam panels might have a potential use as furniture stuffing and for use in soundproofing projects and in loudspeaker enclosures.
There are tens or hundreds of thousands of manufacturers nationwide that use custom shaped Styrofoam shipping inserts to pack and ship their products.
The steel molds that produce these shipping inserts are custom made at a tool and die shop. The manufacturer pays for the designing and the tool and die work. Most manufacturers will contract with the tool and die shop in a manner that gives them full rights to the molds and the mold blueprints, a few do not.
In most cases, even if the manufacturer does not have these rights, it would be a good idea for you to offer to pay for the design and tool and die services. This may run from $500 to $5000, depending on the size and number of molds and their complexity.
In most cases, the design work will have already been done and the blueprints will be available, but the molds will be in use, and the manufacturer will not be willing to cease production and risk a delay in their supply of shipping inserts. This means you will have to take the blueprints to a tool and die shop and get new molds made, or take samples of the forms and make your own molds.
The new molds do not necessarily need to be made of steel, and in most cases will not even have to precisely reproduce the forms currently being produced. Steel molds are more likely to save heating costs in the long run over fiberglass molds, because steel is a better conductor of heat.
If you want the lowest initial investment costs, then fiberglass is the way to go. Take samples of the forms from the manufacturer, cut them in half, and coat them very lightly with wax, oil, or grease. Follow this with a coat of fiberglass resin. Before the resin sets, dust or spray glass fibers onto it, and follow this with more resin. Alternate fibers and resin to build up the thickness of the fiberglass layer to where it will be strong enough to withstand low pressure applied inside the mold. Create mating surfaces on the two halves of the mold for proper alignment.
The forms manufacturing procedure is then similar to making insulation panels, overflowing the foam into the molds, applying low pressure, applying heat, removing moisture.
In many cases, where you have a manufacturer who needs large forms, or large quantities of forms, it makes sense to set up as a cooperative, and set up your forms manufacturing facility on their premises or right next door, or within the range of a forklift, to minimize shipping costs. For example, if you are making forms for a manufacturer of washing machines, the forms will be large, and the manufacturer will need large quantities of them. It makes sense to eliminate the shipping costs for the forms if possible.
Some of the larger manufacturers make their own forms on their own premises. You would find many of these who would willingly pay the same costs as they currently pay, just for the local and national economic benefits associated with using domestic corn rather than imported petroleum products. Of course, some others would just as soon set up their own equipment, and buy their own corn cheaper on the open market. Of course, they have to pay shipping and storage costs, so you still may be able to directly sell them raw corn for greater than commodity market value.
The concerns regarding foam additives are a little different for shipping inserts. Although repelling rodents and insects is still a valid concern, far fewer mold, fungus, bacteria, rodent and insect repellent additives are required. Additives to promote greater cohesion and flexibility are desirable. Additives that provide anti-static properties are desirable. Something as simple and inexpensive as ethylene glycol or soybeans may well provide this. A higher moisture content is allowable.
Foam shipping "peanuts" or "popcorn" can also be manufactured. There are probably a thousand different specific approaches to doing this, and I doubt I could do better with the specifics than anyone else that had the same result in mind. The specifics are not important. Most or all of the principles relating to insulation or custom forms apply, but the emphasis would be on continuous production at as high a speed as possible.
You could have a mold that formed foam cylinders ¾ inch in diameter, and cut the cylinders into 1 inch long pieces, but this would imply a batch method of production, and you want continuous production. Extruding foam "snakes" into a high temperature low pressure chamber from the top of the chamber, cutting them into pieces at the bottom, and removing the pieces from the chamber via a sliding airtight conveyor belt at the bottom would serve the purpose of continuous production. The conveyor can be made to carry airtight sealed collection boxes through the bottom of the chamber, with the pressure being slowly restored and the contents emptied automatically by the proper use and placement of the rubber seals on the boxes.
Egg cartons may be one of the largest markets for foamed corn. The molds may prove difficult or expensive to make, but the profits will outweigh either difficulty. You will have to get the molds made at a tool and die shop, or make them yourself out of fiberglass. Since the shape of the mold is complicated, it is perhaps better left to a tool and die shop. You should not outright copy an existing design, because that is copyright or patent infringement and you may suffer legal action against you or your cooperative. However, if you have access to a business directory library (many public libraries have the business directory books) and a WATS line, you might try contacting a large number of design or tool and die firms. You might get lucky and find a firm that had contracted out egg carton die tooling business, but was able to retain the copyright on their design work. In that case, you only have to order the molds, and the cost will be less.
If you wanted to go as cheap as possible, you could hard boil a dozen eggs, place them in a half inch of sand, arrange them as perfectly as possible, then cover them halfway with sand. After you do this, you can spray alternating coats of fiberglass resin and glass fiber. There would be a lot of work left with adding fiberglass and shaping it with a Dremel Moto-Tool. An existing Styrofoam egg carton has ribs for added strength, and the thickness of the foam is greater in strategic locations. It is not copyright or patent infringement to examine the techniques used and then implement them into your own design, so long as you dont copy them directly.
Once you have a workable mold made, make some egg cartons and use them to create additional fiberglass molds as described above in duplicating shipping forms.
It may or may not be better to refrain from using low pressure when making egg cartons. This will have to be determined through experimentation. If not then the foam can simply be sprayed onto the forms, and the forms moved through a heater on a conveyor belt like hamburgers at a fast food restaurant.
After the form is cooked, a fine mist of corn or other vegetable oil should be sprayed onto the finished surface, and the form moved through another heater, this time at a very high temperature or open flame to sear the oil into a hard varnish. This will provide additional strength and prevent the eggs from sticking to the form. Alternating 2 or 3 coats of foam, cooking, oil, searing, will provide additional strength. Of course, this means a longer conveyor belt and more heaters.
A series of racks should be used, so that you can keep a running inventory, in order to give the yeast time to rise. You can either manually or automatically rotate the racks, depending on how much you want to invest in equipment. This is not prohibitively expensive if you are using fiberglass molds. If steel molds were used, this would tend to be expensive, because of the large number of molds in a running inventory setup. A cooperative would want to use an automatic rack system, an individual farmer would want to use a set of racks, and spray the forms, let the foam rise, and then just manually feed the forms into the heater.
For use in egg cartons, the mix needs far fewer additives, of course, than insulation. Additives to provide additional structural strength are the most desirable. Dont overlook restaurant egg trays when deciding what to produce.
Other large markets are foam fast food and take out cartons. Even supper clubs keep a supply of these on hand for take out order. The tooling and manufacturing techniques are the same for these as for egg cartons.
This also includes foam plates, bowls, and cups. There is a large market for these. You would want to start up a cooperative for this, because you need to produce a large volume. You would want to start out by selling to small supermarkets and supermarket chains, then attempt to move up to supplying a giant like Wal-Mart. You should easily be able to slightly undercut the cost of Styrofoam. For a project like this, you might want to have individual farmers produce foam plates out of their own shops and deliver them to a central distribution facility, using standardized molds to do the manufacturing.
One of the largest potential markets for foamed corn would be the foam trays used to hold fresh pork, poultry, and beef which are used by supermarkets and packing houses. Many hundreds of millions of these trays are sold and used each year. Another fair to large sized potential market would be replacing TV dinner trays and certain other frozen food trays and packaging. Replacement products made of foamed corn would have the advantage of being slightly less expensive, and being totally biodegradable. These products can be disposed of in ones sink grinder, rather than being thrown out to take up space in landfills. These are two of the easiest to manufacture, and the foam should require the fewest number of additives.
If you find this information useful and profitable, I would appreciate some assistance from you in return. With your assistance, I can likely do far more for you than just increasing your corn profits.