Biting the dust

A product funded by soybean checkoff dollars has made its way to Minnesota’s roads.

Recently, EPIC EsterLink (EL) Dust Suppressant was applied to a gravel road adjacent to a sugar beet piling station near the town of Foxhome in Wilkin County. EPIC EL, commercialized by BioBlend Renewable Resources, is a soy-based dust control product designed to decrease the amount of dust created by traffic and large equipment on unpaved roads.

The EL dust suppressant uses soybean oil and glycerin, a coproduct of biodiesel production, to create an emulsion. The emulsion is concentrated and mixed with water prior to application. Research at North Dakota State University, funded in part by the soybean checkoff, created the chemistry for the product. 

The application site was chosen because of the high amount of sugar beet truck traffic on the road. With sugar beet harvest quickly approaching, the suppressant will soon be put to the test. Typically, traditional magnesium/calcium chlorides are applied to the entire road before and during harvest as needed. The Foxhome application site includes another stretch of the road treated by chlorides.

“If we could find something more affordable, and if it can be environmentally friendly, that’s a huge plus,” said Tim Christopher, maintenance supervisor for the Wilkin County Highway Department.  

Besides decreasing the amount of dust and other air pollutants, EPIC EL offers environmental benefits by offering an alternative to the traditional products that can cause corrosion on equipment or leach into the soil.

On site for the application of EPIC EsterLink (EL) Dust Suppressant were Steve King, BioBlend Renewable Resources, Tim Marquardt, Wilkin County Highway Department, John Barr, North Dakota State University, Jimmy Gosse, AURI, Tim Christopher, Wilkin County Highway Department, Todd Allison, BioBlend, Mike Youngerberg, MSR&PC and Harold Stanislawski, AURI.

Harold Stanislawski, project development director for Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), believes people are eager to switch to a better product for suppressing dust if they can find something that works as well as chlorides. AURI will compare the chloride and EL applications at the Foxhome site with dust monitors and complete similar dust suppressant comparison trials at other sites around Minnesota.

“This is just another example of how soybean farmers and the soybean checkoff are creating new products that have benefits from the farmer to the consumer and the environment,” said Mike Youngerberg, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council senior director of product development and commercialization.

BioBlend is searching for the best soybean oil pricing to retail a cost-effective product. Research and development continue to develop the best mixing process. The product can be purchased directly from BioBlend.

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