Iowa Biobased Facts


Economic Impact

  • Iowa Regent Universities research leaders offer insight on the biobased economic potential in Iowa.  “Of 2.5 billion gallons of petroleum lubricants, we can capture 50% or more using soybean and other renewable oils; of chemicals like adhesives, resins, plastics, waxes, and fabrics, we can capture 50% to 70% using biorefineries.”
  • Rob Denson, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) President, said more than 7% of Iowa's employment is in the biosciences area and wages are more than $12,700 per year above the average state wage.
  • A recent report completed by the University of Northern Iowa says the establishment of 10 biorefineries in Iowa would result in 22,000 jobs, an $11.6 billion annual boost to the economy, and a $367 million annual increase in tax receipts.
  • The report, Biobased Products and Bioenergy Vision and Roadmap for Iowa (PDF), shows that Iowa leads all 48 contiguous states regarding the volume of available biomass.  The report also shows Iowa leads all Midwest states in total biobased products sales volume.


  • The University of Northern Iowa's Ag-Based Industrial Lubricants (NABIL) Research Program is a nationally recognized leader in the development and commercialization of soybean-based industrial lubricants.  Since it was established in 1991, ABIL research has resulted in the development of more than 30 viable soybean-based lubricant, grease and metalworking fluid formulations including the high-performance multi-grade hydraulic fluid, brand named BioSOY™, a patented electrical transformer fluid named BioTRANS™, a chainsaw bar oil called SoyLINK™, a rail curve lubricant called SoyTrak™, and SoyTRUCK™, a semi truck fifth-wheel grease. Commercial success has been most prominent in the truck and rail markets.  Performance advantages of these products include better adhesion to metal surfaces, higher flash and fire points, and lower toxicity than petroleum counterparts.
  • The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation has committed $1 million to the Iowa State College of Agriculture to support the university-wide Bioeconomy Initiative, which develops technologies for converting crops and plant materials into chemicals, fuels, fibers and energy.
  • To help Iowa State University students prepare to enter the rapidly growing biorenewable industry, Cargill has invested $600,000 to the school’s Bioeconomy Initiative.  Iowa State’s nationally recognized Bioeconomy Initiative develops technologies for converting crop and plant materials into chemicals, fuels, fibers and energy, and educates students in these processes.
  • The Biorenewable Resources and Technology (BRT) Graduate Program at Iowa State University is the first in the nation to offer students advanced study in the use of plant and crop-based resources in the production of biobased products.


  • In an effort to help farmers by stimulating industrial use of vegetable oils, the Governor of Iowa signed into law a bill providing tax breaks to manufacturers that convert to soybean-based metalworking fluids.  Iowa has actively encouraged industrial applications for farm products as a way to broaden demand for crops.
  • On May 30, 2006, Governor Tom Vilsack signed a bill into law that encourages the use of soybased transformer fluid.  The Bill signed by Governor TomVilsack allows for a 2 dollar per gallon tax credit (PDF) to all electric utilities who utilize transformer fluid that is soybased.


  • BIOWA is a trade association for biobased products headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa.  BIOWA's goal is to create more from Iowa's natural resources – more products, more jobs and more business. This process requires establishing partnerships all along the value chain, from farmers to entrepreneurs to bioprocessing companies to commodity producers. In the short term, BIOWA will create dozens of businesses which enhance the value of Iowa's wealth of natural products. In the long term, biorefineries will be established to dramatically increase the standard of living in our state. All of these activities will expand the bioeconomy.
  • Iowa boasts the 15th largest concentration of biotechnology companies in the nation and is a hotbed for new investments.  More than 200 companies involved in some aspect of biotechnology are doing business from Iowa locations.
  • Naturally Iowa, LLC,  has introduced a new dairy container which pioneers the way for cleaner, more efficient packaging.  This corn-based plastic (NatureWorks®) composts naturally, leaving nothing behind to harm the environment.  Naturally Iowa, LLC, represents the world's first dairy processing plant to utilize this revolutionary technology.  The bottles are made from the Midwest's corn surplus.  After you finish with the product, each bottle simply disappears in an industrial composting facility.  As an alternative, it could be integrated into a community recycling program.
  • Creative Composites was founded in 2002 in Brooklyn, Iowa; their product is biocomposites.  Biocomposites use agricultural fibers as the reinforcement agent and/or plant based resins as the binding agent.  They have inherent sound dampening qualities and a wide range of acoustic applications. Other advantages include reduced weight, design flexibility, natural content and biodegradability.
  • Grain Processing Corporation’s SUPERCORE® modified starch is a corn-based product which is highly refined and contains essentially no oil, protein, or fiber.  SUPERCORE® modified starches are used in a variety of gypsum and ceiling tile applications.  Grain Processing Corporation is located in Muscatine, Iowa.
  • Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) and Metabolix, Inc. announced in mid-March 2006 that they plan to build a chemical plant in Clinton, Iowa, to produce plastics from cornstarch.  The plant will initially produce 50,000 tons of biobased plastic per year and is expected to be operating by mid-2008.  According to ADM, the plastics produced at the plant will range in properties from rigid to elastic and could potentially be converted into coatings, films, fibers, adhesives, and a variety of molded and thermoformed products.
  • Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing, Inc. of Plainfield, Iowa, is the leading provider of biobased lubricants and greases in the United States.
  • Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. is the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics. Pioneer produces and markets hybrid seed corn in nearly 70 countries and employs approximately 5,000 people worldwide.

Iowa Bioproducts



  • Biolubricants in Iowa consumed the oil of over 25,000 acres of specialty soybeans each year (PDF).
  • SoyTrak (PDF), a biobased track lubricant developed in Iowa, has a better gauge face coefficient of friction than major petroleum-based grease, has less migration to the top of rail than major petroleum-based grease, improves fuel efficiency, has superior lubricity, and has higher flash point than petroleum greases for increased safety.
  • BioTrans (PDF), a biobased lubricant developed and used on electrical transformers, was developed in Iowa and greatly reduces the environmental risks, liability, and costs for containment or cleanup of spills.
  • BioSoy, a soybean oil-based hydraulic oil developed in Iowa, is suitable for both mobile and stationary machinery and can be used indoors as well as outdoors because it performs well in a range of temperatures.

Other Products

  • Avant Original, developed by B4 Brands of Lisbon, Iowa is an instant hand sanitizer that is 95% total bio-based content and is clinically proven to kill 99.99% of germs on hands within 15 seconds without soap and water.

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Last updated: 8/9/2013