Soybeans: The Petroleum of Tomorrow?

While ethanol has captured the headlines as "the" renewable fuel alternative to gasoline, other plant-based resources such as soybeans are also making in-roads into petroleum's dominance.

Earlier this year, the state's Soybean Board released information that more than one million gallons of soy-blended diesel fuel had been produced from the state's crops. Since 1990, the Board has assisted in on-road testing the fuel in state and local trucks and buses.

One of those participating in the tests has been Omaha Public Power District, which has been using a 20 percent soy and 80 percent diesel blend in its trucks. According to the utility, about 4,500 gallons of 100 percent soybean fuel - which will be blended with 18,000 gallons of diesel fuel - will be purchased from an Iowa producer.

Soy oil is also being used and tested by different utilities in other ways. Two consumer-owned utilities - one in Nebraska and one in Iowa - are testing a soy-based transformer oil, called "BioTrans," to replace mineral oil. "This product, will not only provide environmental and business benefits, but additionally support our farm economy in Nebraska since we would be purchasing a soybean-based product, and Nebraska has a lot of acreage planted in soybeans. This is a natural alliance between public power in Iowa and Nebraska and the farming community," Bill Mayben, chief executive officer of Nebraska Public Power District, said.

Bruning Feed and Grain, north of Hebron in southern Nebraska, has developed a drip oil from soybeans for use in lubricating center pivot irrigation pumps. But, the oil has proven to be ideal for aquaculture pumps, as a concrete release agent and as a dust control for gravel or dirt roads.

For more information about this product, contact Tina Domeier at 800-232-6623, or visit the web site at www.bruninggrain.com

Return to the Summer 2000 Newsletter