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Soybean Oil and Its Uses

Soybean oil has many versatile uses and is a popular harvesting choice among many farmers. This oil is increasing in popularity as a prominent alternative fuel. You can derive renewable diesel and biodiesel from soybean oil, allowing you to find many new uses for this popular crop. Using biodiesel as a fuel for equipment, vehicles and tools improves air quality, enhances safety procedures, boosts energy security and aids the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Learn more about soybean oil and its uses in the energy industry now.

What Is Soybean Oil?

Soybeans are cool-season legumes, and many farmers in the eastern half of the United States grow them. Soybeans have a unique relationship with some bacteria species. The bacteria receive nutrition from the soybean, while the soybean receives nitrogen from the bacteria. This relationship minimizes the need for nitrogen fertilizer during production.

Soybean oil is a vegetable oil made from soybean seeds. It is one of the most common in the kitchen and has a wide variety of applications. To make this oil, soybeans are dehulled and crushed, and the oil is separated from the soybeans. The oil is then distilled and refined to remove contaminants that could affect its smell or color.

What Is Biodiesel?

Biodiesel contains no petroleum, making it an excellent substitute for petroleum-based diesel fuels. You can create biodiesel from animal oils, plant oils and used cooking oils. Although animal oils, like lard and tallow, are inexpensive feedstocks, there are additional expenses for handling and transporting these materials. Soybean oil creates around 90% of biodiesel produced today.

Depending on the engine’s specifications, you can use biodiesel in any diesel engine with slight or no required modifications. For instance, engines dating before the early 1990s may require modifications because many models have seals and natural rubber components, which can degrade when they come in contact with biodiesel.

Soybean Oil Uses

Historically, soybean oil has been a kitchen ingredient used in making salad dressings, fried meats, margarine, bread and more. The many health benefits for skin, bones, hair and nails are noteworthy, but there are additional uses for soybean oil in the energy industry. Soybean oil offers a versatile, neutral alternative to many other fuel sources, and in recent years, soybean oil accounted for more than 50% of vegetable oil use. It’s easy to see why! This oil’s many uses and health benefits make it an exceptional alternative for other fuel sources for your equipment, tools and vehicles.

Federal and state policies have recently encouraged soybean oil use for energy solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Between 2009 and 2022, biofuels totaled 96% of soybean oil usage , with around 10.4 billion pounds of oil becoming biofuel at the end of the 2022 marketing year. New standards outline ways to use soybean oil as a replacement for heating oil, jet fuel and petroleum-based transportation fuel. Additionally, there are new frameworks offering expansion for renewable diesel, an advanced biofuel requiring no blending or machine modifications.

Benefits of Soybean Oil and Biodiesel

Biodiesel is an attractive energy option for many people because it is a renewable and clean-burning substitute for other fuels. You can use soybean oil for biodiesel for a variety of benefits, including:

  • Improving air quality: Biodiesel reduces life cycle emissions. Soybeans and other feedstocks that produce the fuel absorb carbon dioxide, which offsets the amount of carbon dioxide that releases from biodiesel combustion. This cycle creates a greener process for creating fuel sources, aiding the environment by creating less pollution. Additionally, improving air quality can lead to enhanced productivity and cognition, a reduction in the spread of airborne diseases, and greater protection from pollutants and contaminants that can trigger conditions like allergies and asthma.
  • Promoting safety: Biodiesel in an unblended, pure form causes less damage than petroleum diesel if you spill it or release it into the environment. Biodiesel is less combustible than petroleum, with a flashpoint much higher than petroleum diesel. This property makes it safer to transport, store and handle biodiesel and allows more time for a safe and proper cleanup process if there is an accidental spill.
  • Boosting energy security: Diesel engines rely on the fuel’s lubricity to prevent moving components from wearing prematurely. Biodiesel raises the fuel’s cetane number and improves fuel lubricity, even at low levels. The specific diesel fuel properties will determine the required amount of biodiesel, but 2% biodiesel is typically adequate for lubricity.

How to Extract Soybean Oil

The soybean oil production process can be complex. The process begins with cleaning the soybeans and drying and dehulling the beans before extraction. You must remove the hulls because they can absorb oil, giving a lower yield. You can use magnets to separate iron from the soybeans before heating the soybeans to coagulate proteins for easier extraction.

The next step in the process is to cut the soybeans into flakes and place them in an extractor with a solvent. You then use counterflow as the extraction system for the highest yield. You will then need to remove the solvent from the oil with an evaporator. This process creates a further purified oil.

After this process, the oil may still contain impurities, which you must remove. You can use a filtration system to remove insoluble materials and a degumming process to remove soluble materials. To improve the oil stability, the oil can undergo a process to create more saturated fats and reduce unsaturated fats, but this step is optional.

Discover LCDM Soybean Facilities and Operations

LCDM is your one-stop shop for custom grain handling equipment. With over 40 years of experience, we understand the innovation you need for grain equipment to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. We also provide the best solutions possible for soybean facilities.

Farmers rely on soybean crushing facilities to extract oil, and we can help your farm by offering high-quality equipment and support. Whether you need to comply with new regulations and standards or want to create a better fuel alternative for your community, you can find everything you need to accomplish your vision at LCDM.

With us, you can find square sprouting solutions , multiple lining options, slide gates, diverter valves and additional equipment to meet your soybean needs. We’re committed to helping customers find cost-effective services and products to maximize efficiency, and we want to do the same for you.

If you need custom fabrication or engineering for a soybean crush facility project, rely on our skilled team to deliver quality support and design. Our industry knowledge and experience will provide the support you need to find superior products that last. Contact LCDM to learn more about our soybean crush facilities and operations or to discover how we can help you.

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