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USDA to Explore Personal Care Products from Hemp

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The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is partnering with Midwest Bioprocessing Center (MBC), located in Peoria, Illinois, to expand the market for hemp seed oil.

At the heart of the 24-month partnership is a patented process that a team of chemists with the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria developed, called “bio-catalysis.”

In short, it involves using enzymes and heat rather than harsh chemicals and solvents to catalyze reactions that bind natural antioxidants like ferulic acid to lipids in soybean and other vegetable oils. Under the cooperative agreement with MBC, the team will explore creating similar ferulic-acid-based ingredients from bio-catalyzed hemp seed oil, potentially broadening the market for this commodity.

Toward that end, the ARS-MBC team will focus on bio-catalyzing hemp oil to make skin care ingredients that perform specific functions, like protecting skin from UV light, retaining moisture, or stabilizing other active ingredients used in skin care formulations.

"Collaborating with industry partners like MBC, which has expertise in enzymology and the infrastructure for scale-up, is critical to exploring expanded uses for our original technology,” said Compton, with the ARS center’s Renewable Technologies Research Unit in Peoria.

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