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Indiana company produces motor oil out of soybeans





Indiana Correspondent

NDIANAPOLIS – Motor oil made from high oleic soybeans has hit the commercial market.

Biosynthetic Technologies out of Indianapolis developed the 5W20 and 5W30 motor oil. The oil made with soybeans from U.S farmers met or exceeded the performance of traditional petroleum based motor oil during 18 to 20 months of testing in a variety of vehicles, uses and climate extremes, said David Asiello with the U.S Department of Defense.

He said 185 vehicles from the U.S Department of Defense, the U.S Department of Homeland Security, United Postal Services and other agencies operated successfully on the soybean-based oil. Asiello said included in the findings were increased engine longevity, fuel efficiency and less engine down time. The soybean based oil was also found to be less harmful to the environment.

‘’They met all of the performance requirements with no oil related issues,” he said.

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority also operated its vehicles on the soybean based motor oil with similar results.    

“This bio-based motor oil exceeded our expectations in terms of performance and engine cleanliness,” said Tim Richardson, director of fleet management for the DCWSA.

The Biosynthetic Technologies developed oil was also found effective in industrial applications.

The product was also recognized as a USDA certified bio-based product for meeting the federally mandated purchasing initiative known as the “BioPreferred Program.”

Courtney Kingery, CEO of the Indiana Soybean Alliance, said about three pounds of soybeans go into every quart of the oil. She said the oil drives up demand for high oleic soybeans and meets consumer demand for bio-based products.

“When our farmers are able to partner with local Indiana industries that brings additional value back to Indiana and the Indiana economy,” Kingery said. 

U.S Soybean Board director Mike Korth, a soybean grower from Randolph, Neb., offered a similar viewpoint.

“Soy-based motor oil is another great opportunity to drive demand for U.S. soybeans and allow companies to give customers what they want at the same time.  These partnerships benefit soybeans farmers and agriculture as well as a variety of industries and end users,” he said.

Jim Mintert, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, said demand for soybeans will go up but just how much is too early to predict. Mintert said a lot depends on consumer acceptance of soybean based oil as an alternative to petroleum based oil and other factors like how widely and quickly the new lubricant gets distributed.

Cost of the product is also a critical factor, he said.

On its website, Biosynthetic Technologies is offering the soybean based oil at $9.99 per quart. A quart of petroleum based oil sells for as little as $3 per quart.

“In the short term probably minimal impact.  The long run remains to be seen,” he said.

Mintert said impact on demand would be much greater if the new product was gasoline made from soybeans because oil consumption for engine lubrication isn’t nearly as large.

“I don’t want to downplay it.  It’s significant.  But that’s how this stuff goes.  You got to start somewhere. Whether or not they’re able to build significant market share over a period of years remains to be seen,” he said.



Biosynthetic Technologies has announced production of a motor oil that is soybean based.