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Clothing from Corn: DuPont develops innovative process to create polymer from renewable resources

DENVER, Jan. 30, 2003 Clothing from cornfields? DuPont scientists have recently developed an innovative bio-based method that uses corn instead of conventional petroleum-based processes to produce the latest polymer platform for use in clothing, carpets and automobile interiors.

DuPont scientist Dr. Scott Nichols will unveil the latest findings Feb. 14 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting and science innovation exposition here. Nichols' presentation, "Engineering E.coli for the Production of 1,3-Propanediol -- Creating DuPont Sorona Polymer of the Future from Corn," will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at Workshop D (Colorado Convention Center: Exhibit Hall A).

Traditionally, fibers are petroleum-based materials. DuPont, with joint development partner Genencor International, developed a bio-based method that uses renewable resources instead of typical petrochemicals. Through metabolic engineering of biochemical pathways, a microorganism was engineered to use sugars from corn and corn biomass in a fermentation-based process. From annually renewable agricultural products, DuPont can now produce 1,3 propanediol (PDO), the key building block for DuPont Sorona -- the company's newest polymer platform The unique technical properties of Sorona are derived from a unique, semi-crystalline molecular structure featuring a pronounced "kink." When stress is exerted on the molecule, strain deformation occurs first in its crystalline, lower modulus regions. As stress is released, the crystalline structure locks in, allowing a complete recovery to the initial shape. In conjunction with this distinctive characteristic, Sorona fiber offers additional advantages over both polyester and nylon: it has a softer feel and supports easier, more versatile dyeability with excellent washfastness and UV resistance.

Currently, DuPont uses a petrochemical process in Kinston, N.C., to produce the Sorona polymer. The
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Contact: Anthony Farina
anthony.r.farina@usa.dupont.com
302-774-4114
DuPont
14-Feb-2003


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