USDA develops biodegradable cat litter

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has developed a biodegradable cat litter from spent corn. The clumping, odor-absorbing compound is made with dried distiller’s grain, a byproduct of ethanol production, along with glycerol, guar gum and copper sulfate. Current clay-based litters are not biodegradable and are disposed of in landfills, but this new formulation could be more environmentally friendly.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found a way to a way to make cat littler that is almost fully degradable.

The department’s Agricultural Research Service found that using spent corn called dried distiller’s grain DDGs may prove to be more environmentally friendly than popular but nonbiodegradable, clay-based litters that mostly end up in landfills. Dried distiller’s grain is what is left over after ethanol production. In this case, the DDGs were treated with one or more solvents to extract any remaining, potentially useful natural compounds. USDA has called these x-DDGs.

ARS researcher Steven Vaughn and his colleagues found a kitty litter formulation composed of x-DDGs and three other compounds: glycerol, to prevent the litter from forming dust particles when poured or pawed; guar gum, to help the litter clump easily when wet; and a very small amount of copper sulfate, for odor control.

The mix resulted in a highly absorbent compound that clumps and provides significant odor control, researchers found.

 

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