Ohio Soybean Council launches research lab

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The Ohio Soybean Council's Airable Research Lab
The Ohio Soybean Council will bring its research in-house with the new Airable Research Lab, which will focus on developing products that use soybeans, creating new markets in the soybean industry. (Submitted photo)

LONDON, Ohio — Barry McGraw, director of product research with the Ohio Soybean Council, is always keeping an eye out for products that could be better or more sustainable with soy.

As the chief executive officer of the council’s new Airable Research Lab, he will work with scientists and commercial companies to create these products.

Through this lab, announced Sept. 17, the council will continue developing new markets in the soybean industry and creating more demand for Ohio soybean farmers.

History of research

The council has used checkoff dollars to fund bio-product research for over 20 years. Now, with its own lab, the council is bringing the research in-house.

Jennifer Coleman, communications director, explained that in the past, the council has worked with research companies to develop products. It will continue to work with other companies, but will also have its own team and lab space to do its own research.

Coleman said the council holds patents on multiple products that it helped develop. These have generated income for the council through royalties, which have supported scholarships and other programs the council offers. In addition to income from royalties, new, soy-based products can help increase the demand for soybeans.

More direct

McGraw said the new lab brings the council “closer to companies.”

“We can develop exactly what they want,” he explained.

Rather than just using other research partners, the council can now work with directly with clients who want to develop soy-based products, tailoring their research to fit with what the client needs.

There are currently four chemists and several engineers working at the lab, with plans to expand the lab space.

“We’re already growing,” McGraw said.

New products

Some of the projects the team is working on include developing soy-based corrosion coatings, improving soy-based wax, which can be used in candles and packaging, and working with an Australian company to create a coating for concrete roofs.

McGraw said he is constantly looking for other products that soy can be used in.

Past success

Over the years, the council has been honored 10 times by the R&D 100 Awards program for products it helped develop. One of these award-winning products was a soy-based floor coating, called Light Curable Coating.

Another award-winning product was EnzoMeal, a soybean-based fish food developed by the council and Battelle Memorial Institute. The council is now working with Matrix Sea Food India to produce 50,000 tons of EnzoMeal annually by 2020, using Ohio soybeans.

One product, Roof MAXX, is now offered in 44 states. It is a spray designed to extend the life of aging roofs, which the council developed with Ohio State University and Battelle Memorial Institute beginning in 2017.

Next step

The many years of focus on research helped the council develop this lab.

“We knew that was important,” McGraw said, noting that this type of research led to the development of biodiesel.

While finding the right team and the right lab was important, McGraw said the process was relatively easy, calling it “serendipity.”

“I think the mentality of Ohio soybean farmers has allowed for this next step,” McGraw said.

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