A soy-based air filter for use in residential and commercial applications is the winner of this year’s Student Soybean Product Innovation Competition at Purdue University. Finding innovative new uses for soybeans that meet a market need and ultimately increase demand for soybeans is the reason Indiana Soybean Alliance has funded the competition since 1994. Team FiltraSoy met that goal with their winning product.
“Our farmer board invests soybean checkoff funds in this competition with the end goal of moving some of the soy-based products from the student labs to the marketplace and drive demand for our soybeans,” said Tom Griffiths, ISA chairman and farmer from Kendallville, Ind. “For the past 20 years, we have seen that goal met several times and also seen hundreds of students introduced to the versatility and potential soybeans as an industrial and food ingredient through this competition.”
Preliminary testing of the soy-based HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) filter shows that it has the potential to be roughly 15 percent more effective than current high-efficiency HVAC filters already on the market while also being low-cost and environmentally friendly. The FiltraSoy team also implemented a novel use of cold plasma technology to charge the filter which makes it significantly more effective than the current high end technology being used in the marketplace today.
The FiltraSoy team members are Anderson Smith of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Andrew Huang of Potomac, Md.; Sushant Mehan of Delhi, India; and Samaneh Saadat of Shiraz Fars, Iran. Smith and Huang are both seniors in environmental and natural resources engineering, and Mehan and Saadat are both agricultural and biological engineering PhD students. The FiltraSoy team will receive a $20,000 prize for their first-place entry.
The second-place team members, who will share a $10,000 prize, created Soy Poo-fession, a soy-based odor-trapping toilet spray. Teammates, Kian-Ting Lee of Taiwan, and Yudi Wen of Shanghai, China, are both juniors studying food science.
A third-place prize of $5,000 was awarded to the team that created Soy Droplet, a freeze-dried soy-based snack. Members are Peili Wang of Dongying, China, and Wenwen Zhou of Shanghai, China, seniors studying food science.
This year, 16 teams composed of 50 Purdue University students finished the competition. The participating students represent a variety of majors, including food science, engineering, animal science and computer science. In addition, each team works with two faculty advisors who provide technical and market research support.
“This year’s Soybean Product Innovation Competition once again illustrates the versatility and enormous potential of soybeans in the marketplace with 16 new soy-based products created by a talented group of Purdue students,” said Griffiths. “I hope that these students – including the majority who have no connection to agriculture – are inspired by this experience to pursue a career in our industry.”
Following the annual competition, ISA evaluates each soy-based innovation created by the student teams to determine if they have commercial viability to break into the marketplace and ultimately increase the demand for soybeans. Some past successful soy-based products that got their start from the student competition include candles, crayons and leather conditioner.
Indiana soybean farmers’ investment in finding new soybean innovations is not limited to the competition. The state soybean checkoff also funds the Soybean Utilization Endowed Chair in Purdue’s College of Agriculture to lead research into new uses for soybeans.
Currently, ISA is also working with companies in the concrete industry to license a new soy-based concrete sealant developed through checkoff-funded research at Purdue University. This soy-based, penetrating concrete sealer is ideal for concrete roadway infrastructure where protecting the environment is a key requirement or consideration.
“Building demand for soybeans is a top priority of Indiana Soybean Alliance, and we believe the area of new use innovation, including this competition, is one where we continue to add value to our soybean crop,” said Griffiths.