WASHINGTON — Can something called a “cobuilder” be helpful to the laundry industry in the near future? Two groups of scientists are working on a new, environmentally friendly ingredient for laundry detergents.Agricultural Research Services (ARS) scientists have joined forces with Folia Inc., an Alabama company, to work on the new ingredient. The ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.Under a four-year cooperative agreement, ARS scientists have worked with Folia scientists and others to develop a detergent additive — called a “cobuilder” — that prevents the formation of scale. The new cobuilder ingredient is derived from cornstarch and is biodegradable.The team’s focus now is scaling up production of the cornstarch-based polyester cobuilders. Product samples are also being sent out for independent testing.