The United Soybean Board (USB), Iowa Soybean Association, Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa, and the research team at Iowa State University recently came together to showcase a new U.S. soy innovation: biobased polymer for asphalt, made possible by high oleic U.S. soybean oil. The polymer is made from high oleic soybean oil and offers a lower-cost and cleaner alternative to the traditional binding agents used in asphalt.

At the demonstration, Iowa State University paved a parking lot at their BioCentury Research Farm in Boone, Iowa. Asphalt test tracks paved last year with the soy-based substitute are performing exceptionally well, according to the researchers.

“Asphalt chemistry is very complex, and the oleic acid content in soybean oil is kind of the secret sauce they’ve been able to use,” explains Gregg Fujan, a soybean farmer from Weston, Nebraska, and a USB director. “It increases the reuse rate on asphalt grindings from 17% to over 30%, so it changes the chemistry of that mix, and it’s very advantageous for the industry.”

Soybean oil has also been used successfully as an asphalt sealant. According to the recent tests conducted at Iowa State University, high oleic soybean oil outperforms competition of other natural oils and even petroleum- and formaldehyde-based lubricants and applications in asphalt — building on previous success in everything from plastics to rubber to turf and tires.

Check out a video from the event here.