High Oleic Ignites High-Heat Industrial Opportunities


High oleic soybeans are stirring excitement in the motor oil industry, a field previously untouched by the soybean market.

The soy checkoff recently funded a study that led to certification by the American Petroleum Institute (API) of a high oleic biosynthetic oil, manufactured by Biosynthetic Technologies. API certification is required for all motor oils, and is an important milestone in the commercialization process. As a result, many of the existing motor oil brands in the market today are looking to add these high oleic biosynthetic oils to their products within the next few years.

According to Allen Barbieri, chief executive of Biosynthetic Technologies, high oleic is an important frontier for U.S. soybean farmers to embrace.

Using high oleic soybean oil to make a synthetic basestock for use in motor oil has been a meticulous process for Biosynthetic Technologies. The company successfully field tested the oil over the course of more than one million miles in 100 Las Vegas taxicabs, prior to API certification test. Automotive engine oils are one of the largest applications of petroleum chemistries.

“Our customers have found that our product performs equal to or better than the high-grade synthetic petroleum products in the market today,” Barbieri added. “We are able to retain most of the positive characteristics of vegetable oil while removing the characteristics that have traditionally made it unsuitable in a motor oil or industrial lubricant application – thanks to high oleic feedstock.”

“Vegetable oil does not evaporate rapidly and the synthetic estolide made from high oleic soybean oil retains that benefit. Also in a motor oil application it does a much better job than petroleum products keeping engine surfaces clean and reducing wear on bearing surfaces within the engine,” explains Barbieri.

High oleic soybean oil has an advantage over not only commodity soybean oil, but other forms of high oleic vegetable oils, too. Soybeans can be grown throughout a much larger region than other high oleic crops. This makes high oleic soybeans more accessible for many industrial customers.

“We are very excited about the advent of these high oleic feedstocks,” Barbieri says. “We plan to start construction of our first manufacturing plant soon, planned to be located in Houston, so high oleic soy grown in the Midwest makes sense for us.”