Illinois Zein Protein Plant Switches to Hand Sanitizer

Cindy Zimmerman

Global Impact Innovation (GII) has switched from producing Zein protein to producing and delivering hand sanitizer at mass-scale in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zein protein from corn has a variety of industrial and food uses.

Since beginning production in mid-April 2020, GII has manufactured and delivered close to 100,000 gallons of sanitizer with a significant portion of its early product donated to hospitals, frontline workers, and vulnerable institutions such as homeless shelters. OSF Saint Luke Medical Center, Los Angeles homeless shelters and other local communities in Henry County, Illinois were among the first recipients of GII’s donation effort.

The production facility, based on the campus of the Big River Resources ethanol plant in Galva, Illinois, was designed to produce Zein protein from corn to address global challenges, such as plastic pollution on land and in oceans. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., the shortage of basic self-care products such as sanitizers became clear, as did the country’s reliance on the halted global supply chain for replacement products. True to its mission of innovating for positive human impact, GII immediately took that as a duty call and jumped to repurpose the Galva plant to produce ethanol-based sanitizers on a large scale in order to make it available across the United States at an affordable price. It has just completed the additional upgrades to produce 150,000 gallons of sanitizer per week and continue to scale.

GII intends to continue selling hand sanitizer in large quantities and at an affordable price to municipalities, educational institutions, manufacturing plants, and more. GII has scaled its delivery containers from its original 55-gallon drums to now include 275-gallon totes and truck tankers.

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