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New Soy-Based Product Protects U.S. Roadways

Research collaboration produces soy-based sealant that cuts costs, saves concrete for longer-lasting infrastructure

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A new soy-based concrete sealant is protecting roadways in the U.S. — supporting demand for soybeans and reducing maintenance costs for U.S. infrastructure.

The United Soybean Board has partnered with the Indiana Soybean Alliance on research and market development efforts for soy-based solutions in infrastructure for decades. Now, USB and ISA are proud to announce that select Indiana counties have the opportunity to use a new soy-based sealant, PoreShield, on their bridges — made possible through farmers’ checkoff investments. PoreShield is being applied to 77 bridge decks totaling 330,000 square feet within Indiana this year, with aims to expand use in the future. As PoreShield is adopted as a solution, demand for soybeans grows. On average, PoreShield utilizes 200 bushels of soybeans per mile of two-lane bridge treatment. That’s equivalent to 7.5 acres of soybeans for each mile demanded by this market.

“As a renewable alternative, using U.S.-grown soybean oil as a concrete durability enhancer is among one of 1,000 soy-based products currently on the market,” said John Jansen, USB vice president of oil strategy. “It unlocks yet another use that drives demand for our soybeans, and with PoreShield, there’s enormous potential for roads and bridges that need these critical enhancements.”

Water is the enemy of highway structures. Water moves everything on a highway, such as de-icers, salt and chemicals, into concrete pores, where they cause cracks, chips, gouges and potholes. Once the network of concrete pores is compromised, the strength of the concrete crumbles.

In 2008, the Indiana Department of Transportation came to Purdue University seeking a durable and sustainable solution to the costly problem of protecting highway structures. They partnered with USB and ISA and began researching soy methyl ester as an environmentally friendly, longer-lasting alternative. PoreShield is the result of this research and an innovative way to enhance the durability of concrete and provide more than 10 years of protection. This product is the only effective solution to preserving concrete surfaces, old or new. PoreShield increases service life of concrete by 5 times, is safer and easier for applicators (no required personal protective equipment) and reduces costs.

The applicators have already voiced their strong support for the product, noting the ease and speed of application. Application crews also appreciate not having to take as many precautions when working with the product due to its natural components. With the bridges being completed in one day, labor costs were half of what was budgeted for the project.

“I’m a concrete finisher by trade and know firsthand the importance of keeping concrete sealed,” said Carl Anderson, a highway superintendent in Orange County, Indiana. “I was impressed by the product we used to seal the bridge decks. The dry time differs quite a bit depending on the weather and how porous the deck was. I will definitely recommend this product to my fellow superintendents of other Indiana counties. Thank you for this great opportunity.”

ISA partnered with USB to create the Infrastructure Preservation program, which offers Indiana counties the opportunity to use PoreShield on their bridges and made this work possible. And Indiana is just the tip of the iceberg. PoreShield is ideal for states throughout the Midwest that freeze, thaw and require de-icing. For coastal regions with heavy salt content, PoreShield reduces absorption of water and ion diffusion.

“Collaboration between the national soy checkoff and the Indiana Soybean Alliance made this new uses project a reality with their local connections and boots-on-the-ground approach, and what’s neat is that it can be replicated across other states to build further momentum,” said Mark Seib, USB director and farmer from Poseyville, Indiana.

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