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Corn+Soybean Digest

Soy Industrial Lubricants Perform Well in Field Tests

“Soybeans are locally grown, renewable, biodegradable, and environmentally-friendly. With an ever increasing awareness of environmental stewardship, consumers are seeking alternatives to petroleum-based products,” Karkosh says.

The production process is fairly simple. Soybeans are crushed into a commingled oil and meal substance. The oil and meal are then separated. The oil is processed into grease and lubricants, and the meal is used as livestock feed.

The products were developed by Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing (ELM), based in Waverly, IA. ELM was formed to transfer ag-based lubricant technology from ABIL. The Iowa Soybean Promotion Board has been supporting the ABIL program through checkoff dollars since 1991. ELM combined the exclusive lubricants technology of UNI-ABIL with exclusive, proprietary DuPont-produced soybean oil with high oxidative stability. The combination of these two technologies has given ELM the ability to produce soybean oil-based lubricants that meet and exceed their petroleum counterparts.

Since 1991, ABIL has commercialized 16 lubricants, oils, and greases made from soybean oil, including tractor hydraulic fluid, food-grade hydraulic oil, industrial hydraulic oil, food-grade greases, and metalworking fluids. These products have practical applications, including uses in farm equipment, gears, railroads, transformers, semi trucks, and chainsaws.

These soy-based products have advantages over petroleum-based products. They are biodegradable and far less toxic than traditional products for applications where the products are usually rubbed or washed off. In addition, they have a higher flash point, making them less likely to catch fire.

"Extensive field tests by several Iowa trucking firms - including Norseman, Midland, Johnsrude, Ruan, and Crete Carrier Corporation - have shown the product to perform superbly. Best of all, when soybean-based grease falls off or is washed off by rain it degrades naturally and does not pollute the environment," Karkosh adds.

“As a longtime supporter of ABIL’s program, I am really excited about the partnership between ABIL and FS/Growmark,” says Kirk Leeds, chief executive officer of the Iowa Soybean Association. “We are always looking for ways to increase the utilization of U.S. soybeans, and believe that these soy industrial lubricants are real winners. Once again, the ABIL staff has shown how public and private entities can work together to build demand for soybeans.”

Contact your local FS Cooperative to see how soy-based lubricants can benefit your operation. To locate a cooperative near you, visit and click on Member Cooperative Locator, or call Growmark at (309) 557-6148.

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