The soybean, its use once limited to agriculture, is cementing a place in industry as a biodegradable substitute for petroleum in a variety of commercial products.
In an effort to promote and commercialize the most promising soybean-based products and materials, the Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center (OBIC), along with the Ohio Soybean Council and PolymerOhio, is leading a yearlong effort to assess current national soy-based technologies.
OBIC, housed on Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences campus, is an alliance of industry and academic organizations and institutions focused on the commercialization of bio-based technologies and products that combine Ohio's strongest industries: agriculture and polymer materials.
The "Cell to Sell" Soy Technology program is a portfolio management system that accelerates innovation by leveraging resources to address unmet market needs.
"The purpose of the project is to identify and commercialize technologies that directly involve soybeans for industrial uses – products like lubricants, adhesives, plastics and paints and coatings," says Kenneth Anderson, "Cell to Sell" Soy Technology project leader. "Why? Because soybeans and the polymer industry are a huge part of Ohio's economy and we are seeking to bridge the gap between these two industries to help improve the economic climate in Ohio."
Kirsten Dangaran, an OBIC research scientist, says the first step in the project is the creation of a database of current soy technologies.
"We need to find out right now what is being developed. The further along a project or the higher the technology's potential, the stronger a candidate it is for commercialization," Dangaran says. "Within the year, we are hoping to be able to target one or two technologies with the ultimate goal of bringing them to commercialization."
Anderson says that technologies where soybeans could serve multiple uses across the supply chain would be of particular interest.
"For example, technologies where oil is extracted from soybeans and used as a sort of lubricant for the automotive or airline industries, and then reblended as a potential new product would have value," Anderson says. "The process is known as platform technology."
Industries, individuals and other organizations pursuing such bio-based technology development are invited to submit their technologies to the "Cell to Sell" initiative database, found at http://www.obic.us. Submissions will undergo an initial assessment and be returned to the submitter with recommendations regarding resources to advance the commercialization objective.
For more information on the project or to participate in this program, contact Anderson at [email protected]. More information about OBIC is available at http://bioproducts.osu.edu.