The sustainability of U.S. soybeans has led to a new market opportunity for the very farmers who grow them.

Renewable chemical manufacturer Biosynthetic Technologies recently leveraged U.S. soybean farmer dollars into government funding it will use to build a facility to make motor oil out of high oleic soybean oil.

With a $100 million loan pledge recently secured from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Biosynthetic Technologies plans to break ground on its first manufacturing facility, which will be capable of producing 20 million gallons of biosynthetic base oil each year. This opportunity could be just a start as the company could later add multiple facilities in North America and around the globe. The soy-based motor oil could be available for purchase in as little as three years.

“It’s gratifying to see soy used in industrial applications, and to see checkoff-funded research leveraged into a significant commitment from the USDA,” says Lewis Bainbridge, South Dakota soybean farmer and soy checkoff farmer-leader. “From the application process to research, it’s been exciting to see a checkoff investment help validate a good product and get it closer it to the marketplace.”

Based on projections, within five years U.S. soybean farmers could see up to 1 billion pounds of high oleic soybean oil being utilized annually for industrial uses.

High oleic soybeans produce oil that is more stable at higher temperatures, making it well suited to certain industrial applications with exposure to high heat. American Petroleum Institute (API) certification verifies the biosynthetic motor oil passed the rigorous standards required for motor oil use, clearing the way for use by motor oil manufacturers. Checkoff funding helped Biosynthetic Technologies achieve API certification.
 
“The paths to approval, and to our new manufacturing plant, were enabled in large part to support from the soy checkoff,” says Greg Blake, Biosynthetic Technologies senior vice president of public and government relations. “This is a huge win for consumers and U.S. agriculture alike.”

According to Blake, users can count on the soy-based, renewable biosynthetic motor oil to perform on par with petroleum motor oils and for a comparable cost. The lubricant also meets Environmental Protection Agency stipulations for biodegradability, aquatic toxicity and buildup. These attributes will help it gain demand among end users, with whom sustainability continues to become more important.

The 70 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soybean meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.