The versatile chemical composition of soybeans is driving a surge of soy technology.
When processed soybeans are divided into protein (meal) and oil. Soybean meal is primarily used in animal feed, but is also an ingredient in plastic composites, synthetic fiber, paper coatings and formaldehyde-free adhesives.
Soybean oil is one of the most versatile of the natural oils. Its molecular structure and suitable fatty-acid profile can be readily modified for many applications.
Researchers recently developed oilseeds with an increased percentage of oleic acid. High oleic soybean oil (HOSO) is naturally more stable than conventional soybean oil and provides added performance benefits in high temperature applications. It can also be more economically modified chemically into synthetic lubricant basestocks, which can compete directly with polyalphaolefins and synthetic esters in lubricant use.
Think Abundant, Sustainable Supply
Since 2001, world production of soybeans has increased by more than 40 percent. In the U.S. this growth has largely been the result of higher yields as a result of sustainable farming practices. Advances in agriculture ensure the rate of soybean production growth is sustainable for the future.
Think Environmental Sustainability
Unlike fossil carbon sources, soybeans capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They also fix their own nitrogen for plant food which provides an initial lifecycle advantage over other oilseeds that require nitrogen fertilizer made from natural gas. Most soybean acreage in the U.S. uses conservation tillage which disturbs less soil and reduces fuel use.
A Lifecycle Assessment Study shows environmental benefits of manufacturing products using soy feedstock, including:
- Lower carbon dioxide emissions
- Less energy costs
- Lower VOC of some products
- Reduced exposure to toxic chemicals by workers
- Supply chain sustainability
- Credits toward LEED certification of some finished products
- Reduced processing costs and environmental compliance fees
Think Price Advantage
Worldwide demand continues to grow for a finite supply of fossil fuel, which can result in shortages and price fluctuations of limited resources. Renewable soybean derivatives, by comparison, remain in abundant supply which has enabled them to maintain an historic advantage over propylene and other petrochemical equivalents.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service
Approved by the World Agricultural Outlook Board/USDA
Oilseeds World Markets and Trade June 2016, Table 7