Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has been using soybean oil in some of its tires since around 2017 following about five years of research with support from the United Soybean Board. Now, the third-largest tire manufacturer in the world has committed to the use of only “sustainably sourced” U.S. soybean oil, effective immediately, while phasing out all petroleum-derived oils from its products by 2040.
Goodyear and the USB found that the use of soybean oil in tires helps keep a tire’s rubber pliable in changing temperatures and improves road surface grip, an innovation they commercialized first in 2017 and have expanded upon since. Goodyear’s tests have shown rubber made with soybean oil mixes more easily in the silica-reinforced compounds used in manufacturing certain tires. This also improves manufacturing efficiency and reduces energy consumption, the tiremaker says. The company’s use of soybean oil increased +73% last year over what was utilized in 2018.
The Soybean Board says U.S. soybean growers are well-positioned to meet Goodyear’s new sustainable procurement policy, too. USB touts U.S. farmers as leaders when it comes to using new leading-edge technologies and best management practices to increase economic and environmental sustainability.
USB and Goodyear are actually frequent collaborators on research into how to incorporate soybeans into rubber products. The breakthroughs don’t just stay at Goodyear, either. The company recently worked with shoe company Skechers to apply tire tech to sneaker soles. Skechers has now incorporated soybean oil into some of its running shoes to deliver “grip, stability, and durability” with plans to utilize it in more styles moving forward.
According to John Jansen, USB vice president of strategic partnerships, there are already more than 1,000 different soy-based products available on the market today. Another new use of soybeans that the USB helped facilitate is asphalt. In collaboration with the Iowa Soybean Association, Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa, and a research team at Iowa State University, a new biobased polymer for asphalt formulated with high oleic soybean oils provides a lower-cost and cleaner alternative to traditional binding agents. Plus, it can outperform petroleum and other product ingredients. According to the researchers, the asphalt modifier will enable high-quality pavements to be produced from low-quality raw materials like overly stiff vacuum tower bottoms and recycled asphalt pavement. The team paved a parking lot at the Iowa State University BioCentury Research Farm in Boone, Iowa.
In Indiana, the Indianapolis Colts have partnered with a company called SYNLawn Indiana to use artificial grass that is made using soybean oil. With support from the USB, the Colts use SYNLan’s soy-backed synthetic grass for their traveling interactive football experience. The partnership not only educates kids and their parents about football and fitness, but soybeans as well. SYNLawn has actually installed 82 million square feet of U.S. soy-backed grass across 200,000 installations in the United States and 19 other countries since 2008. SYNLawn’s soy-backed grass is recyclable, conserves water, eliminates emissions from lawn mowing and when installed on road medians, workers no longer mow in hazardous locations. The product lasts for multiple years, which further contributes to its cost-effectiveness. You can learn more about some of the new uses being found for soybeans and soybean oil over at the USB website HERE. (Sources: USB, AgDaily, TireBusiness)