High oleic soybean oil opens up new opportunities

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Farm Forum

The industrial uses for commodity soybean oil are widely known, and there have been recent stories about the amazing opportunities that high oleic soybean oil brings to the food industry. High oleic soybean oil offers a lot of industrial opportunities, as well.

Currently, you can find soybean oil in some cleaning supplies, carpet backing, foam and other industrial applications. However, commodity soybean oil isn’t always a viable solution for every product. High oleic soybean oil has the ability to withstand high temperatures and high levels of friction – traits commodity soybean oil does not have. This unique feature makes high oleic soybean oil an ideal material for creating new, sustainable technologies for industrial applications.

High oleic soybean oil has the potential to match, or even exceed, the performance of petroleum in various industrial uses. This could open up a whole new market for soybean oil.

“High oleic soybean oil is lower in volatility than petroleum products and has better stability than conventional soybean oil, which makes it attractive to some industrial users,” says Lewis Bainbridge, chair of the Oil Action Team for the United Soybean Board and a South Dakota soybean farmer.

Consumers rely heavily on petroleum-based products, so using more plant-based products helps decrease reliance on unsustainable fossil fuels. However, according to researcher and USB consultant Jim Martin, industrial manufacturers are concerned about performance before anything else, so it’s important that soybean oil performs as well as or better than petroleum-based counterparts.

High oleic soybean oil’s high heat tolerance makes it safe for use in high-temperature applications, including:

• Motor oil that is more environmentally friendly than current synthetic motor oils.

• Lubricants with natural detergency.

• Railway lubricants.

• Oleo chemicals, which are used in making many products, such as pressure-sensitive adhesives like tape.

• Nylon 69, which is used to create lawn-trimmer string.

Industrial partners are very interested in the potential of high oleic soybean oil, Martin says. Before that potential can be realized, however, U.S. soybean farmers have to show that they can provide a consistent supply of high oleic soybeans.

“Industrial markets are sensitive to availability, so no one is going to commit to using it in a major way until the availability is there to ensure that farmers can meet demand,” says Martin.

High oleic soybeans perform in the field just as well as, if not better, than current varieties, so farmers don’t have to choose between on-farm and customer benefits. Talk to your seed rep if you are interested in advancing industrial uses with your soybean crop.