For six years, Pittsburg State and Cargill have worked tirelessly to create new polyols.

For six years, Pittsburg State and Cargill have worked tirelessly to create new polyols.
On Thursday, the two took a break for a day to document that partnership. Pittsburg State honored Cargill by naming one of the laboratories at the Kansas Polymer Research Center after Cargill, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services.
Pittsburg State and Cargill entered into a business relationship in early 2003. Cargill has contributed almost $5 million for KPRC research efforts.
The idea was to turn soybeans into soybean oil, and then find a way to turn soybean oil into various types of polyols.
Some of these polyols have already hit the market in the form of various eco-friendly foams that are currently used for furniture, bedding, flooring and car applications.
“I understand in a few weeks, we will be getting some new furniture in this building, and that furniture will incorporate some of the foam created in the joint research effort started in this building,” said Pittsburg State president Tom Bryant.
This work led to Pittsburg State and Cargill jointly receiving the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2007.
Those soy-based polyols have now expanded to manufacturing in two continents and are sold in four continents.
“In less than three years, we went from concept to cash,” said Yusuf Warzizda, Cargill business unit manager. “From the first prototype molecule to our first sale, it was under three years’ time. We are a technical and commercial leader in the polyol sector.”
Current research is focusing on some of the more rigid foams, according to senior research scientist Mihail Iohescu. Iohescu said some of these foams could be much more effective at insulating homes and refrigerators than any current type of insulation.
Warzizda said Cargill was glad to receive the honor symbolizing the partnership between academia and the business world.
“We are greatly honored by the decision to put the Cargill name on the lab,” Warzizda said. “It’s fitting because this is a lasting testimony to the great partnership we have had in the last six years. This shows that Pittsburg State values its relationship with Cargill. By the same token, Cargill values its relationship with academia. We take seriously the need to nurture knowledge from the laboratory to the marketplace.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.