Setting the Bar High for High Oleic Soybean Oil

November 18, 2013 Ohio Soybean Council

Beyond the elevator, soybeans play a vital role in the creation of new products, solutions and chemical alternatives for the future. It is the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and soybean checkoff’s priority to increase soybean demand through advancements in soy-based research and technology, therefore, increasing your bottom line.

A project funded by the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) and soybean checkoff, United Soybean Board (USB) and six state soybean boards is working to develop new industrial uses enabled by the specific characteristics of high oleic soybean oil. This million dollar project has the potential to help increase demand and use millions of soybeans each year.

John Motter, OSC chairman and soybean farmer from Hancock County grew high oleic soybeans this past year and is optimistic about using high oleic soybean oil industrially.

“Farmers can benefit from the new market opportunities resulting in greater profitability,” said Motter. “It’s all about growing a product that meets our customers’ needs.”

Emery Oleochemicals recently demonstrated that high oleic soybean oil could be used in place of their current tallow feedstock. Using tallow requires a step to upgrade to a level of oleic acid that high oleic soybean oil inherently has.  This eliminates a process step and depending on the commodity pricing of tallow and high oleic soybean oil could provide an economic advantage. Emery’s initial commercial trial of high oleic soybean oil as a feedstock consumed 750,000 lbs of product, which is equivalent to over 50,000 bushels of soybeans. If Emery were to use high oleic soybean oil as their sole feedstock, they could use over 200 million pounds of soybean oil each year or nearly 20 million bushels of soybeans.

With North American headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, Emery has distributions and plants in North America, Germany and Malaysia.

Battelle, a global research and development organization, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, serves as the project lead to evaluate the market and technical opportunities for high oleic soybean oil. As of now, research has focused on applications such as specialty waxes, candle waxes and diacid monomers for plastics. The project is now past the lab phase and focused on commercialization to identify and work with potential licensees of these technologies to conduct trials and larger scale evaluations, such as the one at Emery.

“We are looking for advantages that high oleic soybean oil is going to have over commodity soybean oil,” said Jeff Cafmeyer, senior research scientist at Battelle. “We have found there’s an advantage to using high oleic soybean oil in soy plasticizers, and are continuing to identify multiple applications where these inherent advantages can be used to fill another need in industrial applications such as specialty waxes, emulsifiers and plastics.”

PolyOne, which provides specialized polymer materials, services and solutions, has licensed the technology to use these soy plasticizers previously developed with commodity soybean oil and is currently evaluating the high oleic version which has shown marketable advantages in its performance.

“This is exciting that trials at Emery show we can utilize this new soybean oil,” Cafmeyer added.

Emery recently processed high oleic soybean oil, supplied by DuPont Pioneer into oleic acid and glycerin and then converted the oleic acid into azelaic and pelargonic acids by their proprietary ozonolysis process. These specialty chemicals then go into plastics, detergents, soaps, herbicides and nylon among other products.

Emery uses renewable, non-petroleum based raw materials from the oils from soybeans, palm, canola and fats from livestock tallow, which makes up about 90 percent of the company’s feedstock. These high performance products are then processed into a line of plastic additives, fatty acids, fatty alcohols, glycerin and triacentine and other oleochemicals that go into thousands of products ranging from additives and adhesives to home and personal care items.