To bring together researchers developing new uses for soy in areas such as coatings and solvents, the United Soybean Board (USB) hosts an annual series of collaborative meetings. These gatherings, referred to as Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) meetings, assemble researchers from universities, large companies and start-up businesses to present their work in new uses for soy, including problems encountered, successes found and future plans.

By dividing the meetings up by industry – coatings/inks/solvents, fibers, adhesives, and plastics – the researchers discuss their findings with people working on similar projects. Each meeting takes place over a two-day period and is broken down into presentations by several researchers and more informal networking opportunities where attendees can seek advice and input from each other.

John Schierlmann, technology manager of Rust-Oleum/Zinsser Wood Care, has attended the coatings, inks and solvents TAP for the past four years. He says these meetings give him an opportunity to exchange information and meet other technical professionals who work with soy in similar capacities. Bob Borden, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University, would agree, and points out that the connections he made at past TAP meetings eventually led to joint ventures in soy research.

The most recent coatings, inks and solvents TAP meeting saw presentations from an array of researchers mostly focused on providing more environmentally friendly products at a cost that is agreeable to the end user.

Most TAP meetings open with a brief presentation on USB and U.S. soybean. This is often followed by a market opportunity study of a particular industry. For example, the market opportunity study for coatings, inks and solvents showed the potential for soy in these areas as legislative bodies push for more green options and petrochemical raw material costs increase. The recent TAP meeting also addressed commercialization strategies focusing on involving the supply chain and using the sustainability of soy as a key factor.

The meeting’s first day included a presentation on anaerobic bioremediation with soy by North Carolina’s Borden and Randy Frees and Paul Coty of Soy Technologies discussing the soy-based cleaning products and coatings additives offered by the company. On the following day, Victor Arredondo of Proctor & Gamble and Neal Rogers from Cook Composites and Polymers presented work on sucrose polyester alkyds. This discussion provided another option for green, low-VOC coatings. Soy acrylics for water-based products was presented by Schierlmann. “Attendees benefit from learning about all the new technologies people are using for soy-based products,” adds Schierlmann.

For more information on upcoming TAP meetings, e-mail

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.