Infrastructure and Roads

‘Soy’ Much to Offer Roads and Other Infrastructure Jobs

More than 4 million miles of paved roads in the United States present opportunities for U.S. soy to supply a sustainable solution for construction or maintenance of high-performance highways, as well as rural roads. In fact, U.S. soy might already be in an infrastructure project near you.

The United Soybean Board (USB) and state soybean checkoffs support research for U.S. soy to serve as a natural choice for asphalt and concrete durability enhancer and as a new dust suppressant for roads and construction sites. Infrastructure projects require heavy duty equipment, which can count on biodiesel, hydraulic fluids, greases, and more products made with soy.

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A new soy-based concrete durability enhancer is protecting roadways in the U.S. — supporting demand for soybeans and reducing maintenance costs for U.S. infrastructure.

The United Soybean Board has partnered with the Indiana Soybean Alliance on research and market development efforts for soy-based solutions in infrastructure for decades. Now, USB and ISA are proud to announce that select Indiana counties have the opportunity to use a new soy-based concrete durability enhancer, PoreShield, on their bridges — made possible through farmers’ checkoff investments. PoreShield is being applied to 77 bridge decks totaling 330,000 square feet within Indiana this year, with aims to expand use in the future. As PoreShield is adopted as a solution, demand for soybeans grows. On average, 200 bushels of soybeans are used for every two-lane mile of concrete highway joint treated with PoreShield.

“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,” said John Jansen, USB vice president of oil strategy.“It unlocks yet another use that drives demand for our soybeans, and with PoreShield, there’s enormous potential for roads and bridges that need these critical enhancements.”

Water is the enemy of highway structures. Water moves everything on a highway, such as de-icers, salt and chemicals, into concrete pores, where they cause cracks, chips, gouges and potholes. Once the network of concrete pores is compromised, the strength of the concrete crumbles.

In 2008, the Indiana Department of Transportation came to Purdue University seeking a durable and sustainable solution to the costly problem of protecting highway structures. They partnered with the United Soybean Board and the Indiana Soybean Alliance and began researching soy methyl ester as an environmentally friendly, longer-lasting alternative. PoreShield is the result of this research and an innovative way to enhance the durability of concrete and provide more than 10 years of protection. This product is the only effective solution to preserving concrete surfaces, old or new. PoreShield increases service life of concrete by 5 times, is safer and easier for applicators (no required personal protective equipment) and reduces costs.

The applicators have already voiced their strong support for the product, noting the ease and speed of application. Application crews also appreciate not having to take as many precautions when working with the product due to its natural components. With the bridges being completed in one day, labor costs were half of what was budgeted for the project.

“I’m a concrete finisher by trade and know firsthand the importance of enhancing durability of concrete,” said Carl Anderson, a highway superintendent in Orange County, Indiana. “I was impressed by the product we used to enhance the bridge decks. The dry time differs quite a bit depending on the weather and how porous the deck was. I will definitely recommend this product to my fellow superintendents of other Indiana counties. Thank you for this great opportunity.”