Smart Earth Corporation’s new Ecolube product was developed in Canada by Linneaus Plant Sciences Inc. as an environmentally friendly substitute for popular lubricant and penetrant products currently on the market for home and work use.
What’s the advantage of vegetable oils?
Vegetable oil has superior lubricity – it’s better at being slippery – than petroleum oil, which actually has no lubricity when it
comes out of the ground and gets its oily characteristics from chemical additives. The veggie alternative has other benefits too.
“If you can formulate a product using vegetable instead of petroleum oil, you get something that is biodegradable, non-toxic, nonflammable and renewable – and it won’t stain and doesn’t have an odour,” says Linneaus President Jack Grushcow. “Our goal
ultimately is to take these Canadian vegetable oils and put them into products to deliver higher value to the entire value chain.”
What is the benefit for Canadian farmers?
For farmers, developing the lubricant market means a potential premium of up to $2 per bushel for high oleic soybeans. Ecolube
is the first in what is hoped will become a whole category of new bioproducts in Canada using Canadian vegetable oils.
Soy 20/20, an organization focused on developing new markets for Canadian soybeans, estimates the annual Canadian market
share of the petroleum-based lubricant and penetrant category at $40 million. The goal is to capture 10 to 20 per cent or more
of that volume with environmentally friendly alternatives that use vegetable oil-derived ingredients.
“We support a gradual conversion from commodity soybeans to purpose-grown crops for specific applications, thereby taking
advantage of grower premiums for high oleic crops and crops grown for high end uses,” says Soy 20/20 President Jeff Schmalz.
“If we can build a market for Ecolube and products like it, this will allow companies to come into Ontario and build production,
which is a win for farmers, governments and really, the entire value chain.”
Soy 20/20 specializes in taking products from concept or prototype to completion and works with numerous bioproducts
companies in this capacity. The organization helped move Ecolube through several stages of commercialization, including
branding, packaging, production, market research, marketing and business development. Soy 20/20 is now working on
getting Ecolube onto Canadian store shelves.
More information about Smart Earth Ecolube is available at www.smartearthlubricants.com.
Note: This post is adapted from a story originally written for the Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre in September 2012. Click here for an audio interview with Jack and Jeff.
Other stories I’ve written about soybean-based industrial products: