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PoreShield is the latest new product made from soybeans that boosts demand.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

November 9, 2020

3 Min Read
Highway workers in Wabash County, Ind., spray PoreShield on a concrete bridge deck
BEANS PROTECT BRIDGES: Highway workers in Wabash County, Ind., spray PoreShield, made with soybean oil, on a concrete bridge deck. Indiana Soybean Alliance

If you drive on roads and bridges in seven Indiana counties, you’re driving on soybeans. A product made from soybeans protects those roads and bridges from deterioration and may add up to 10 years of extra life to bridge decks.

Robyn Shelley is a project manager with the Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Corn Growers Association. Shelley notes that the new product, PoreShield, had been applied to 75 county roads and bridges in Indiana by the end of October. Counties where the product was used include Elkhart, Wabash, Jasper, Johnson, Noble, Orange and Warrick.

The ISA partnered with the United Soybean Board using checkoff dollars to create the Infrastructure Preservation Program, Shelley explains. The goal is to introduce county highway departments to the new product. Wabash County was the first county to participate. Officials there are working toward treating all bridge decks.

Carl Anderson, Orange County highway superintendent, is a concrete finisher by trade. “I was impressed by the product we used to seal the bridge decks,” he told ISA staff. “The dry time differs quite a bit depending on the weather and how porous the deck was.” Still, he’s ready to recommend PoreShield to other county highway departments.

USB officials believe Indiana could be the tip of the iceberg for this product. Roads and bridges in the entire Midwest are subject to freezing and thawing and require deicing. Salt is a major enemy of concrete. USB also sees PoreShield as a good fit in coastal regions.

“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,” says John Jansen, USB vice president of oil strategy.

There is a built-in market for soybean meal through livestock. However, Indiana farmers noted recently while unveiling the three-year ISA and ICMC strategic plans that any new use that increases the demand for the other major soy byproduct, soy oil, is a welcome addition.

Origins of PoreShield

This new concrete sealer and life enhancer made from soybean oil didn’t just magically appear, sources say. The story dates to 2008, when the Indiana Department of Transportation asked Purdue University for help in finding a durable, sustainable solution for concrete protection on Indiana highways, especially bridges.

ISA became a partner in the project, and research on soy methyl ester as an environmentally friendly, longer-lasting alternative to seal concrete bridge decks began. It took over a decade, but Shelley says PoreShield is now a real product. It’s already been applied to 330,000 square feet of bridge deck in Indiana alone.

What farmers often want to know is just how many extra soybeans are actually used when a product like this finally reaches the market. Is the investment in new-uses research worth the return?

ISA staff note that it takes half a bushel of soybeans to produce a gallon of PoreShield. On average, treating 1 mile of two-lane bridge uses 200 bushels of soybeans.

Sarah Delbecq, DeKalb County, Ind., spoke about new uses during the unveiling of ISA and ICMC’s strategic plans. “This is certainly an area where it’s important to fund research that could lead to new uses,” she says. “We just need to monitor projects to make sure it’s probable they will end up in a practical product.”

Indiana Soybean Alliance sources contributed to this article.

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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