Agriculture University of Illinois researchers develop board made of corn stover

Published on October 7th, 2010 | by Tina Casey


Your Next House Could Be Made out of Corn

October 7th, 2010 by  

University of Illinois researchers develop board made of corn stoverResearchers from the University of Illinois have developed a proprietary corn-based composite board that can be used instead of particle board, plywood or fiberboard. Called CornBoard, the invention is not one of those still-in-development laboratory hothouse flowers. The product has been patented for use by a company called Corn Board Manufacturing, Inc. Aside from providing a new use for corn stover (corn husks and stalks), CornBoard could play a role in trapping excess CO2 that would otherwise be released when corn stover decomposes.

How Much Corn Stover is Too Much?

According to the University of Illinois (and they should know!), more than 86 million acres of corn are grown every year in the U.S. For each acre, about 4,000 pounds of corn stover is left in the field.  It would only take about two acres of corn stover to make enough CornBoard to outfit a two-story house with decking, flooring, and outdoor wall sheathing. They’re also working on using CornBoard for other household wood-based products such as furniture (check out this video of a CornBoard Adirondak-style chair that snaps together), and cabinets. Oh, and don’t forget your CornBoard longboard.

But What About the Glue?

Conventional adhesives and binders that are used to make composite wood products contain nasty chemicals, but the industry is beginning to transition into non-toxic binders. CornBoard uses a non-toxic resin based binder. Researchers at Oregon State University are also developing a non-toxic adhesive for pressure-sensitive tapes, and adhesives based on tofu are on the horizon. One researcher at the University of Kansas has even developed a soy based adhesive that can be used with straw to make edible feed barrels for cattle.

Image: Corn by quinn.anya on

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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  • Fascinating. OSB corn edition. Why not? We went from rough-cut to ship-lap to plywood to various particle boards.

  • Daniel

    This is a good idea as long as it doesn’t require us to grow more corn and soy. Making use of leftovers or waste is a good thing, but the Government is directly subsidizing these industries at the detriment of other food crops. Cheap corn and soy are indirectly causing health problems in the USA by keeping junk foods cheap and healthy fruits and vegetables comparatively expensive. Also, corn is fed to all of our livestock and often results in unhealthy animals due to the fact that most of them were not made to eat corn. Governement subsidies need to stop. We may be helping the environment with some of these technologies but the people of our country are becoming more unhealthy and the Government shares part of the blame for that.

  • Only a certain amount of the “corn stover” left over after harvesting can be sustainably removed from the fields. That said, Iowa Agricultural BioFibers of Harlan,Iowa sustainably harvests stover and has developed the technology to make a series of value added, all natural products from the stover; such as livestock feed, Kitty litter, planting mulch, fuel pellets and feedstock for any application such as cellulosic ethanol production.

  • jonathan

    Unbelievable! This is brilliant. Imagine how many trees the cornboard product will save. Sounds like there is enough of the stover produced each year to make a shit load of board…

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