Transportation Department to test soy-based paint for road striping

Thursday, October 11, 2007 | 5:21 p.m. CDT; updated 3:13 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — As commuters drive in and out of Jefferson City on U.S. 63, their tires will roll over a collection of white and yellow lines about a mile north of the U.S. 54 interchange.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is testing soy-based paint on U.S. 63 north of Jefferson City to gauge its usefulness in the striping of highways. The department primarily uses epoxy to stripe asphalt, and water-based paint and polyurea for striping concrete.

The study tests white and yellow highway paint by placing stripes, each 12 feet in length, across one half of both the north- and south-bound highways.

Now, the department is studying the soy-based paint’s performance, said Todd Bennett, chemical laboratory director at the Department of Transportation.

“We look for adhesion to the surface and durability against snow plows,” Bennett said.

The department has been using water-based paint since 1994. And although it is “an environmentally friendly paint,” the soy-based paint is composed of 60 percent renewable material, which makes a more attractive option, Bennett said.

The economics of using the soy-based paint long-term haven’t been examined yet and won’t be until the current study of its performance is complete, Bennett said.

Annually, the state produces about 200 million bushels (a bushel is 60 pounds) of soybeans, which generates nearly $1 billion, said Dale R. Ludwig, executive director and CEO of the Missouri Soybean Association and Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. He said using soy-based paint on Missouri highways would be a “win-win-win situation” for the local economy, the environment and the state of Missouri.

The study began last week and should last approximately one year, Bennett said.

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