Rock to Road

News Roads & Paving Technology
Paving the roads with… soybeans?

October 17, 2022  By  Don Horne

Farmers attending the 2022 Farm Progress Show at Boone, Iowa, caught a glimpse of the potential future of pavement when they visited the show’s Varied Industries Tent, which featured a 42,560 sq. ft soybean asphalt base.

This Farm Progress paving project is an extension of research conducted by ISU into the formulation of high-oleic soybean oil as a replacement for other expensive, highly volatile compounds commonly used in the creation of asphalt products. Using a cold-in-place technology, the project combines 100 percent recycled asphalt pavement mixed with a soy-based polymer. Creating the base for the Varied Industries Tent required more than 2,300 lbs. of soybean oil, or 215 bushels of soybeans. On average, each soybean bushel yields nearly 10.7 lbs. of oil.

Eric Cochran, professor at ISU’s department of chemical and biological engineering, says the university’s research and testing continues to focus on commercialization of a product that could create demand for soybeans, enable construction of more cost-efficient infrastructure, and benefit the environment.


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