An innovate use for soy has been created in the form of the soy-based dust suppressant called Epic EL. This product will offer a sustainable choice to improve air quality for people, pets, livestock and crops in rural, urban and business communities.
Based in Elk Grove Village, Ill., BioBlend Renewable Resources manufactures Epic EL (EsterLink) — a dust suppressant made from soybean oil and glycerin, a coproduct of biodiesel production. About 190 bushels of soybeans are used to make a 275-gallon tote of Epic EL-100 concentrate.
Jim Bahr, senior research engineer in the Research and Creative Activities Department at North Dakota State University, created the base chemistry that BioBlend is commercializing.
“We are excited to see the soy-biobased dust suppressant available to farmers, county engineers, rural and urban areas,” says Kendall Nichols, director of research at the North Dakota Soybean Council, which supplied funding, along with the United Soybean Board. “An environmentally friendly dust suppressant will improve air quality, and protect our water and environment from contamination from salt-based road dust suppressants. Epic EL is just one example of how the soybean checkoff continues to expand uses and demand for soybeans.”
Recognized by the USDA BioPreferred Program, Epic EL is a long-lasting odorless water-soluble product that offers environmental benefits compared to the salt-based mixtures commonly used to control dust that trigger concerns about soil leeching and equipment corrosion. Because of Epic EL’s 100% biobased chemistry, it is noncorrosive. In the event someone drives through an uncured treatment application, general soap and water will remove the product from vehicle surface.
“Watching Epic EL grow and become successful has been a pretty incredible journey,” says NDSC Chairman Austin Langley. “I’d like to relate it to our labor, as farmers and ranchers seeing our crops or calves grow, and ending up with a great crop! Jim Bahr’s Epic EL has done just that. It is a bumper crop in terms of its success and the excitement it brings for the entire soy industry, proving that soy as a key ingredient in many products has potential to increase demand for our crop.
“We are excited to be a part of this journey launching Epic EL and can’t wait to see where this product will take us.”
“When we look at vehicles going down the road, and we see dust going up, that dust is about a ton of material per vehicle per year per mile that we lose,” says Dale Heglund, director of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute’s Local Technical Assistance Program at NDSU. “It goes onto the crops. It goes into the homes. It goes off the roadway, and we have to replenish it. When you use products like Epic EL dust suppressant that hold that surface together, we're not only improving the safety of the roadway, but we're improving the gravel preservation. We're keeping it in place. The investment that we made stays there longer.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the American Lung Association, has recognized the importance of dust control due to its negative implications on the respiratory system. Short and long-term exposure to air pollutants, such as dust, is associated with a number of adverse health impacts.