Potentially boosting soybean production by 200 million bushels annually, a four-year, $5 million grant awarded from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) will allow Kansas State University researchers to study soybeans in creating industrial adhesives and resins.

The project will be directed by Xiuzhi Susan Sun, associate professor in grain science and industry at KSU. "Our research will help to engineer alternatives from renewable sources and ease environmental problems, both goals of the DOE and United States Department of Agriculture," Sun notes. "We want to reach out to help support and connect farmers and industry to use more products from the farm, " Sun said.

The research will accelerate the development of agricultural resources to be used in industrial applications. Spanning from the molecular structure of soybean protein and oil to cost of implementation the planned practices, K-State has been joined by a combination of industry partners including Ashland Chemicals, North Central Kansas Processor, Agriboard, Kansas Soybean Commission and Advanced Manufacturing Institute.

"To avoid the growing dependence on petroleum, the DOE wants to have 10 percent of petroleum needs to be met by bio-based resources by 2020," said Ronald Madl, director of the Agricultural Product Utilization Forum. "We need to shift from being a hydrocarbon-based economy or petroleum to a carbohydrate-based economy or renewable plants."

Specifically, the project will entail two parts. Researchers will concentrate on soy protein-based adhesives, structure and gene mapping of soy protein and oil. It will identify better soybean varieties for soy protein and oil-based adhesive applications.