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Web Exclusive | September 2017

Nebraska researcher uses sorghum for textile dye

Nebraska researcher Yiqi Yang is using the by-products of sorghum as a colorant for textiles. The Charles Bessey Professor of biological systems engineering and of texiles, merchandising and fashion design is using wool to start his research, but hopes that in the future sorghum can be used on other textiles and throughout many industries. Sorghum is a cereal grain used for food in some countries, but in the US it is commonly used as livestock feed and turned into ethanol. Sorghum is also a major source for making liquor. The grain tends to be drought resistant, making it a popular crop to grow in dry climates.

After using the sorghum starch for industrial applications, the coproducts and byproducts that remain are called distillers grains. Distillers grains from corn digests easier than sorghum, so Yang’s research looks to add a better value application for the sorghum industry for Nebraska. Yang and a group of PhD students are currently working to see if the higher cross-linked proteins can have industrial applications, such as food-packaging materials or fibres for textiles.

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