DECATUR, Ill. (AP) _ A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. announced Friday it is launching a new division, Horizon Chemical, to make chemicals from the carbohydrates in corn.

Horizon will employ more than 100 people at facilities in Decatur and Van Buren, Ark., to research, produce and market the new line of chemical products, said Gary Granzow, general manager of the division.

Among other things, the chemicals will make detergents clean better, urethane foams smoke less in fires, and dyes transfer to fabrics easier, Granzow said.

The products are surfactants, methyl glucosides and reactive cellulosics.

''Their structure allows them to be used in ways that petroleum-based chemicals cannot,'' said Granzow. ''It is a business that will grow incrementally ... product by product.''

He declined to provide any sales projections.

Decatur-based Staley began research into chemicals from carbohydrates about 10 years ago, and now is the only company with the technology to make such products, officials said.

The company is a major grain processor, and the raw materials for the new chemicals will come mostly from the milling of corn, said Granzow.

The new venture should mean a slow but steady increase in the demand for grain, thus helping the farm economy, he said.