General Biobased Facts

Agriculture

  • The U.S. produces 38% of the world’s soybean supply.  Almost ½ of all U.S. soybeans are used overseas.
  • Today, farmers in more than 30 states  grow soybeans.
  • By 2025, America’s farms, forests and ranches will provide 25% of the total energy consumed in the United States  while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed, and fiber.
  • Kenaf , a fast-growing, drought-resistant relative of the hibiscus is capable of growing 14 feet in seven months. The outer "bast" fibers of the kenaf plant are an ideal substitute for fiberglass in the production of reinforced plastics. Kenaf fiber combined with various polymers can produce stronger, lighter, and safer components such as non-woven mats and panels for the automobile industry.         
  • If every farmer and rancher used a B2 blend of soy biodiesel, we could use over 48 million bushels of soybeans a year.
  • One acre of corn  can produce enough ethanol to run an average car for 72,000 miles on E-10 unleaded. For every barrel of ethanol produced, 1.2 barrels of petroleum are displaced. By 2010, U.S. ethanol production could displace the equivalent of 311,000 barrels of imported oil per day, or more than one large oil tanker per week.
  • Increased use of renewable fuels such as ethanol could provide an additional $6.6 billion of net income annually for America’s farmers over the next 15 years.
  • One bushel of corn can produce 32 pounds of starch, 33 pounds of sweeter, or 2.7 gallons of ethanol, as well as 1.5 pounds of corn oil.
  • Although China is the world’s fourth largest producer of soybeans, increased consumption has made them the world’s leading soybean importer.
  • The Chinese aquaculture industry used no soy a decade ago but today uses over 150 million bushels of soybeans annually.

Economic Impact

  • By some estimates, if the United States were to triple its use of biobased products by 2010, farmers and rural communities could realize some $20 billion in new income each year from 50,000 new high-tech jobs in small processing plants across rural America, and up to 130,000 jobs in the biopower and biofuels (i.e., ethanol and biodiesel) industries.
  • The breakthrough in low-linolenic soybean oil will benefit the food industry and consumers, and could add an estimated $100 million per year (doc) to the value of soybean commodities.
  • Soybeans and soybean products are the United States’ largest export commodity, generating nearly nearly $7 billion a year (PDF) for our nation’s economy.
  • A typical 40 million gallon ethanol plant creates 32 full-time jobs and generates an additional $1.2 million in tax revenue for a community.

Education/Research

  • Electroactive polymers—plastics that expand or contract when stimulated by electricity—can now be made from plants rather than petrochemicals, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Peoria, Ill.  There is now significant interest in the possible use of electro-active polymers in many industrial and biomedical applications, from light-emitting diodes and controlled-release devices to artificial muscles and environmental sensors. The material is typically petroleum-based, but ARS researchers Victoria Finkenstadt and J.L. Willett have shown that plant polysaccharides such as starch can work just as well.
  • A recent study by Argonne National Laboratory states that cellulosic ethanol reduces greenhouse gases by 85%.  

Environmental Benefits

  • If you harvested the waste from a city of one million people (PDF), you could make enough ethanol for 56,000 Americans, 360,000 Frenchmen, or 2,600,000 Chinese.
  • Many marinas are now offering soy biodiesel (PDF) as a cleaner-burning alternative that is easier on the marine environment.
  • Ethanol reduces carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 30%
  • Juniper is a plant species that runs rampant in the Southwest, making it not only a fire hazard, but also causing it to choke off other native species. However, the chemical makeup of juniper makes it particularly adept for use in water filters. Juniper is being used in Ohio's Wayne National Forest (home to a large number of abandoned mines) to clean heavy metals from acid mine run-off. According to Roger Rowell of the USDA Forest Service, the filters have been about 80% effective in removing heavy metals. Elsewhere, New York's Catskill Mountains are home to a number of dairy farms that produce phosphates as byproducts. The wash from the farms flows downstream into New York City’s watershed, the drinking water source for over 60 million people. "The chemical make-up of the filters from the Wayne National Forest after they've removed heavy metals makes them excellent at removing phosphates from streams leaving the Catskills,” says Rowell. “So rather than disposing of the filters after they've done their job at Wayne, we can get even more mileage out of them by using them in New York.”

Government

  • Brookhaven National Laboratory (PDF) has concluded that spills and the resulting use of clean-up materials decreased over 70% after switching to biobased from petroleum hydraulics,
  • The manufacture of circuit boards made of an epoxy-fiberglass composite is currently petroleum based and highly energy intensive, placing a strain on the environment. USDA grant dollars are aimed at replacing the epoxy with a biodegradable soybean oil resin and the fiberglass with chicken feathers, substituting sustainable materials for petroleum-based products.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (PDF) has approved the claim that 25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • The maintenance department for the Coast Guard Group Atlantic City, N.J., Air Station keeps its equipment running with a hydraulic fuel whose raw material was plucked from soybean farms.  Groundskeepers at the station use biobased products such as bar and chain oil, penetrating lubricant, and 10W30 oil on their aircraft, products that are safer to use and environmentally friendly.
  • The USDA uses a wide assortment of biobased products at their headquarters complex (PDF). A biodegradable, non-acidic, and non-caustic soy-based cleaner clears drains and cuts grease. Other USDA facilities are using biobased products such as non-ammoniated glass cleaner, organic-acid restroom cleaner, low-odor floor stripper, and zinc-free floor finish—all environmentally friendly and healthier for the workers who use them.
  • Workers at the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma (PDF) are using Soygel, a biobased paint remover on a project.
  • U.S. Postal Service (PDF) employees are using a biobased mastic remover without a respirator because it is biodegradable, contains no volatile organic compounds, has a mild odor, and is user friendly. ·          Workers at the U.S. Geological Survey (PDF) are using soy ink because it is safer for employees to handle and easier to dispose of environmentally. They also found that soy ink makes printing more efficient because it lasts longer and reduces down time because of fewer wash-ups.
  • The Statue of Liberty Liberty uses soy-based hydraulic fluid for its elevators, thus reducing energy costs.
  • Under the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory “Green Ship Initiative” (PDF), all research vessels operate exclusively on B100 and biobased oils and lubricants.
  • Yellowstone National Park (PDF) has switched from using more than 130 different cleaning products to approximately 15 biobased products. These products save money and time while protecting the employees and the environment.
  • Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (PDF) is using soy-based detergent that has a neutral ph and is low in phosphates for floor scrubbers to better protect the environment and employee health.
  • When U.S. Navy submarines come to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard  (PDF) for renovation, they get overhauled inside and out down to the smallest detail. Paint crews rely on a biobased product to remove both paint and adhesive on doors and hundreds of other areas on the subs. One advantage of biobased products is that they can be used and stored almost anywhere on the ship, including confined areas, because of their low risk to health and the environment.
  • DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PDF) now uses vegetable-based instead of petroleum-based hydraulic fluid, resulting in significant savings and environmental benefits.
  • Employees of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are using a vegetable oil-based chainsaw bar oil that reduces the amount of petroleum directly released into the environment. They are also switching to a vegetable oil parts washer fluid for a safer, less flammable alternative to petroleum-based solvents.
  • Some state prison facility managers are using vegetable-based degreasers instead of petroleum solvents to clean the lock units of inmates’ cells. The vegetable-based degreaser is safer, easier to work with, and environmentally friendly.
  • The Naval Air Depot at Cherry Point, NC (PDF) uses seed oil, including canola, sunflower, and soybean oil, for machine applications in place of petroleum or petroleum-derived compounds considered hazardous due to possible carcinogens. The Depot also prototyped a straight oil containing seed oil that is biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
  • Mount Rainer National Park uses biobased hydraulic oils throughout the park. Hydraulic oils save energy and are easier to clean.
  • Some Navy installations are using ag fiberboard to build floors, cabinets, and furniture. Fiberboard made from pressed wheat straw has excellent machining qualities and a superior laminating surface. It also provides improved air quality and working conditions.
  • Fort Custer National Cemetery (PDF) in Michigan is using biobased fluids in its equipment. Operators report smoother performance, better idling, and a small reduction in soot levels.
  • Idaho National Laboratory (PDF) is using a variety of biobased products, including a metal cleaner that keeps bus wheels sparkling while significantly reducing the amount of harsher abrasives used to remove corrosion. Drivers claim that reduced amounts of biobased glass and surface cleaners work better than previous products, while mechanics say that the biobased penetrating lubricants they use work in a few hours compared to conventional products that take overnight.
  • Auto shop employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory (PDF) greatly reduced the amount of waste oil-contaminated soil they generated using a soil bioremediation approach. An oil-digesting bacteria product called Oil-Sponge was added to the soil, which was then mixed with water and a nutrient solution called Micro-Blaze.  
  • Carpets in conference rooms at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PDF) are made with biobased soy backing. Also, by using biobased cleaning products, the lab reduces its inventory of chemical and cleaning products from 33 to 7.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (PDF) installed soy-based carpet backing in their offices in 2002.
  • The Department of the Navy (PDF) reports successfully using biobased paint stripper and a biobased metal working fluid called “Pan Terra MMEP” for lubricating and cooling operating machinery.
  • Carpet backing made from soy oil (PDF) has been used in the new headquarters of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • The Agricultural Research Service (PDF) located in El Reno, Oklahoma uses biobased hydraulic tractor fluid, floor and tile cleaner, heavy duty hand cleaner, and two-cycle engine oil.
  • The Department of Interior main building (PDF) uses biobased products such as cafeteria foodservice ware, general-purpose cleaners, and hydraulic fluid in security barriers.
  • Yellowstone National Park (PDF) uses biobased products such as hydraulic fluids, lubricants, and cleaners.  The Department of Energy’s headquarters (PDF) uses biobased window cleaners. Biobased foam insulation and roofing sealant are being used in the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program.  
  • The Government Printing Office (PDF) uses soy ink for printing government documents.
  • The concessionaire at the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska is using bamboo as flooring; a locally grown and harvested spruce was used for exterior and interior wood finishes.
  • Rock Creek National Park (PDF) operates weed eaters that use biobased two-cycle engine oil.
  • Xanterra Parks and Resorts (PDF) in Yellowstone National Park has used 100% soy-based inks for all of its printing for the past 5 years.
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory (PDF) uses biobased hydraulic oil for vehicle lifts; two new on-site buildings at Brookhaven will be using biobased hydraulic oil for their building elevators.
  • Olympic National Park (PDF) uses a soy-based hydraulic fluid in more than 1/3 of their 100 vehicles. It also uses biobased two-cycle engine and bar and chain oils for its chainsaws and weed eaters.
  • The soy-based hydraulic fluid at Los Alamos National Laboratories is made primarily from renewable soybean extracts and is less toxic to humans and animals than petroleum-based hydraulic fluid. It also degrades more quickly than petroleum-based hydraulic fluid, which is important in case a forklift suffers a minor leak from its lifting mechanism.
  • Shenandoah National Park (PDF) in Virginia uses biobased hydraulic fluid in some of its trash collecting trucks.
  • Since 2005, the Defense Logistics Agency has bought biobased items for packaging, hand cleaners, adhesive removers, metalworking fluids, cutlery, and fireman’s lubricants.
  • The U.S. Marine Corps now uses over one million gallons of biodiesel (PDF) a year across the country; Air Force installations use over 4 million gallons of biodiesel a year.
  • Greenview High School in Illinois recently applied a new soy-based roofing material. The soy-based roof replaced a traditional black asphalt roof with a white roof that reflects heat, helping the building use less air-conditioning.
  • A biobased lubricant is used by the Public Power Institute (PDF) in its electrical transformers.

Industry

  • BMW Group’s Designworks USA developed the Mini Biomoke, a concept car with biodegradable body panels infused with palm tree seeds. When the vehicle’s lifespan is up, the buried body panels spring into trees, which help clean the air of toxins.
  • Ford’s new car, the Model U, uses rubber tires made from corn-based fillers. The tires offer lower rolling resistance and lower weight, leading to improved fuel economy and improved traction on wet pavement. The Model U uses soy components reinforced with fiberglass to make the car’s tailgate.
  • Plant resources, mostly for paper products and chemical feedstocks, now provide about 5% of manufacturing inputs (PDF).
  • The current production of biobased textile fibers, polymers, adhesives, lubricants, soy-based inks, and other products is estimated at 12.4 billion pounds per year (PDF).
  • K V Pharmaceuticals (PDF) in St. Louis used soybean oil polymer-based for roof repairs to reduce HVAC energy consumption by 20-30 % while also reducing maintenance costs.        
  • DuPont and Tate & Lyle scientists have developed a new method for using corn to produce propanediol (PDO). The new product, Bio-PDO(TM), is a key ingredient in the production of DuPont’s Sorona(R), a new polymer for clothing, carpeting, plastics, personal care and liquid detergent products, de-icing fluids, antifreeze, and heat transfer fluids.. The production of Bio-PDO(TM) consumes 30-40% less energy than petroleum-based PDO.  They plan to produce 100 million pounds of Bio-PDO per year, saving the energy equivalent of 10 million gallons of gasoline. 
  • Japan's Fujitsu Ltd, Fujitsu Laboratories, Ltd., and Toray Industries Inc. jointly developed a large computer case made of bioplastics, featured in Fujitsu's spring 2005 notebook computers, the first time that bioplastics from cornstarch were used in computer parts. The new technology reduces by about one liter the petroleum used to produce a notebook computer.
  • Fujitsu Ltd. and Fujitsu Laboratories have announced development of a new high bio-content polymer from castor oil for the manufacture of small components in notebook PCs and mobile phones, such as connector covers. The biobased polymer features superior flexibility that can withstand repeated bending.
  • Agriboard Industries (PDF) develops green building systems from compressed rice and wheat straw, including a structural insulated panel made by compressing wheat fiber. The advantages of using Agriboard in construction include low labor costs, with construction times reduced as much as 75% percent. The product also uses less electricity and produces fewer emissions. Agriboard panels were used in construction of a water treatment house in Fort Hood, Texas.
  • South Dakota Soybean Processors (PDF), a farmer-owned cooperative, is partnering with Urethane Soy Systems to produce a biobased chemical feedstock for making products such as carpet backing and foam insulation.
  • A St. Louis-area electric company switched to a soy-based transformer fluid that is less flammable and extends transformer life.
  • Blue and Gold Fleet (PDF) Marine Operations in California uses soy-based inks to print approximately 1 million items a year. 
  • A new soy-based toner for printers, copiers, and fax machines has been developed by the Ohio Soybean Council and Battelle (PDF), a Columbus-based research and development technology leader. This soy-based toner is more readily de-inkable than petroleum-based toners and will result in cleaner, brighter pulp.
  • The use of polylactic acid (PLA) continues to rise, with more companies creating environmentally friendly products using this corn-based polymer. Homemaker Industries of Cary, Illinois is testing 100% PLA rugs, which it hopes to bring to market by 2008. The rugs are made with Ingeo, a fiber produced from PLA by NatureWorks. The PLA replaces polypropylene, a petroleum-based compound many rugs are made from. “When 100% PLA rugs hit the market, for every 5 feet by 8 feet PLA rug made, one-third of a gallon of oil will be displaced,” said Jeffry Vaughn, Homemaker senior vice president of sales and new business development.
  • The Argonne Child Development Center used soy-based products for wall paint, carpeting, and particleboard in the construction of their building.
  • Blair Towns, a multi-family building in Silver Spring, MD, used biobased products in paints, sealants, adhesives, and carpet systems during construction.

Bioproducts

  • Today, 90% of American newspapers use soy ink (PDF) regularly.
  • A tire company has produced a new line of tires that uses micro-droplets of cornstarch as an ingredient to reduce tire weight and rolling resistance.
  • According to estimates from Green Seal, 120 million pounds of foam polystyrene hinged containers are used in the U.S. food packaging industry each year, and each American throws away an average of 100 polystyrene cups annually. These and other formerly petroleum-based plastic items are now available as biodegradable biobased products made from corn, sugar cane, and potatoes.
  • Biobased and environmentally safe soy-based spray foam insulation is now available in the marketplace. Insulation is installed in liquid form and expands to more than 100 times its original size within seconds. Soy-based spray foam insulation provides an estimated savings of 30-50 percent on energy efficiency costs.
  • Biobased utensils (PDF) are compostable within 45-60 days, whereas plastic forks and spoons may take over 500 years to degrade.
  • A corn-based plastic (PDF) made at a Cargill plant in Blair, Nebraska, was turned into the dinnerware and cutlery used at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
  • Sports fans at the Minnesota Target Center for Timberwolves and Lynx basketball games buy beverages served in clear plastic cups that come from corn rather than petroleum. The Wolves were the first major professional sports team to make the switch over to renewable-based goods for their concessions. Minnetonka-based Nature Works, LLC says that the material requires less than half the volume of petroleum to make compared to plastic, even accounting for the energy used to plant, fertilize and harvest the corn.             
  • An application of soy-based spray foam insulation (PDF) to an average 2500 square foot home uses the oil from approximately 15 bushels of soybeans.
  • Not only is soybean oil the world’s leading vegetable oil, it is also the most frequently consumed oil in the U.S., accounting for nearly 80% of our total vegetable oil intake.
  • The rising price of petroleum and increasing concerns about the environmental impact of chemical cleaners and strippers has sparked interest in biobased solvents. Derived from soybean oil, methyl soyate is the key ingredient in an eco-friendly mix. This low-cost, readily biodegradable alternative could replace some of the 460 million pounds of traditional chlorinated and petroleum solvents.
  • Traditional golf tees are made of wood but now new technology has been developed to fabricate them from cornstarch. U.S. golfers alone use an estimated 2 billion golf tees each year. Unlike their wooden counterparts, which take about 3 years to degrade into the soil, corn-based golf tees begin degrading in only 20 days, and will completely degrade in about a year.
  • Industrial biotechnology is beginning to transform the fashion industry through biodegradable fabrics for ready-to-wear clothing and designer gowns spun from polylactide (PLA), a compostable biopolymer made from dextrose corn sugar.
  • Soy insulation provides characteristics in 4-inch stud walls that equal or better traditional insulation in 6-inch stud construction.
  • Biosolids from manure produce mulch that can be used as bedding for cows and is cheaper than sawdust.
  • A product called soysilk, made from the residual compounds of soybeans following tofu manufacturing, is quickly becoming a yarn of choice. It’s being used for clothing and for a cuddly new toy called “Tofu Bear.” ·          Compared to fiberglass, soy-based foam board stock insulation increases air quality indoors, has no loose fibers, and does not sustain mold growth.
  • When soy candles burn, they don’t get as hot as paraffin candles, they burn cleaner, they burn longer, and their fragrance spreads faster. Yellowstone National Park (PDF) sells soy-based candles in its gift shops.
  • Crayons made from soybean oil have better color and don’t rub off like other crayons. Just one bushel of soybeans can make more than 2,000 crayons.
  • Paints and tough coatings made from soybean oil are safe for the environment, safe enough for food packages, and cost less than typical paints and coatings.
  • A product called “Soapstock” made from soybean parts forms an environmentally safe coating that protects roads and helps control dust on gravel roads.
  • Unlike other solvents, soy solvents can be cleaned with water, making them better for the environment.
  • Paper printed with soy toner is easier to recycle and comes out cleaner and brighter.
  • The simple replacement of mineral oil with biodegradable soybean oil (PDF) results in less damage to the environment.
  • Soy-based engine oil does not readily boil off and resists heat degradation. Additionally, compared to petroleum-based oil, soy-based engine oil significantly reduces hazardous air emissions.
  • Vertec Bio Gold (PDF), a biobased product made with corn and soybeans, is 70% more effective than similar cleaners and exhibits less volatile emissions. The product has been successfully demonstrated as a paint-line cleaner at several Air Force depots.
  • Avant (PDF), a corn-based hand cleaner, kills 99.99% of germs within 15 seconds.
  • Bagasse (sugarcane pulp), a byproduct from sugar mills, is an alternative to tree fiber for various types of paper production.
  • Biobag (PDF) is a cornstarch-based bag with soy-based ink labeling that keeps contents fresh and is fully compostable.
  • Earthshell (PDF), a product made from limestone, potato, and cornstarch, is used to make biobased plates and bowls.
  • Envirostrip (PDF) a moisture-resistant, biobased abrasive media composed of acrylic-cornstarch copolymers, is currently being used at the Aircraft Repair & Supply Center in Elizabeth City, NC.
  • BioBased 501, manufactured by BioBased Systems, is a one-step spray insulation that provides a sealed thermal envelope, preventing outside air infiltration, the major cause of energy loss in homes.  In 2003, BioBased 501 was voted the “Outstanding Green Product of the Year” at the National Association of Home Builders National Green Building Conference and was selected among the "2003 Top 10 Green Products" at the U.S. Green Building Council's Green Build Conference.
  • Biobased 1701 is the first water-blown, closed-cell spray foam to be introduced since spray polyurethane technology first emerged in the mid 70’s. Before 1701, closed-cell spray foams were primarily petroleum-based, and most relied on CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) or HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) blowing agents. A typical 2,500 sq ft home insulated with BioBased 1701 will use about two acres of soybeans and eliminate the use of over 700 lbs of petroleum derivatives, while reducing energy consumption 30-50% annually for the life of the home.
  • When Americans turn on air conditioners, fans, and televisions today, the transformers that help electricity flow freely to their homes may have been cooled by a soy-based transformer fluid. Envirotemp FR3 provides a renewable, cost-effective, and safe alternative to petroleum-based mineral oils for rural and municipal electric cooperatives. The soy-based fluid has been shown to enhance the loading performance of new transformers by up to 14% or extend their insulation life five to eight times. It also has a similarly positive impact on larger units already in service, such as those found in electric substations.
  • U.S. ethanol production hit a record 4.86 billion gallons in 2006, nearly double the 2000 production.
  • There are some 6 million “flexible fuel” vehicles on America’s highways that can run on up to 85% ethanol (E85).
 
 

Engage. Educate. Embed.

Last updated: 8/9/2013