ISU Dedicates Pilot Plant Using Soybeans to Make Roads

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ISU's Bio-Polymer Plant dedicated near Boone (Roger Riley WHO-HD)

ISU’s Bio-Polymer Plant dedicated near Boone (Roger Riley WHO-HD)

BOONE, Iowa- A dedication ceremony was held Wednesday for a new $5.3 million bio-polymer pilot plant at Iowa State University. The project is designed to show that soybean material can be refined to polymers, a substance used in asphalt, and in plastics. The plant is located at the Bio-Century Research Farm, which is west of Ames in Boone County.

Seneca Petroleum, along with Argo Genesis Chemical helped sponsor construction of the new plant to show this type of work could be commercially viable.

“What attracted us to this was that this was a renewable and domestic product, ” said Donald Sjogren of Seneca Petroleum . “Right now polymers in all industries are derived from European and Southeast Asia plants.”

“As we as a society are moving forward, we’re finding alternatives to crude petroleum that perform equally or better,” said Chris Williams, ISU Professor of Civil Engineering. “It’s going to spur economic development in the state of Iowa, and we’re leaders in this bio-technology.”

The University held a dedication ceremony for the plant under a big white tent, as engineers turned the plant on, a hissing sound was coming through the pipes. The plant will produce 1000 pounds of bio-polymer material per day. It is scheduled to begin production on September 1.

‘I think we should be excited this is happening in Iowa,” said Eric Cochran, Associate Professor of Chemical Biological Engineering. “The soybean is one of Iowa’s strengths, this is going to mean some real economic development for the state.”