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Clinton County road project uses soybean oil-based enhancement to extend asphalt life cycle

Intersection of West Colony Road and North Jones Road in Pewamo in Clinton County. There's a stop sign facing towards colony road. The roads are surrounded by corn and soybean fields.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
A one mile stretch of West Colony Road received an application of a soybean oil-based product as a part of a project improve the road's quality.

Officials in Clinton County are part of a project aimed at extending the life cycle of roads. The process involves placing a soybean oil-based asphalt enhancement on top of a recently paved road to prevent the asphalt from expanding and breaking down.

Colony road in Clinton County is one of the first roads in Michigan and the second one in the county to receive the treatment.

A Biorestor truck is parked on West Colony Road. This truck was used to apply the soybean oil based product to the road.
Michelle Jokisch Polo
The Clinton County Road Commission has partnered with Biorestor and Roadway Bioseal to apply a soybean oil-based asphalt enhancement to Colony Road. It's the second road in Clinton County to receive this treatment.

The Clinton County Road Commission partnered with Indiana-based company Roadway Bioseal to apply a soybean oil-based asphalt enhancement to Colony Road. The soybean oil-based product was developed by Biorestor, a company out of Ohio.

Mike Reisthler has been working in the asphalt industry since 1972 and helped develop the product used in the project. He says the soybean oil enhancement can increase pavement life cycles.

“We developed this product in early 2000 and it was on a roadway for seven years and that first section of roadway treated, the engineer said that he had a 40% better life cycles than untreated pavement,” he said.

Reisthler says the oil will help keep the road from being broken down by salt used in the winter.

“It keeps water out of it. So, water does carry the salt bringing it down into the depths of it. So, if we stop the moisture from entering, we are going to keep it from the asphalt as well,” he added.

According to Clinton County Road Commission Director of Engineering Marc Trotter, the project is an innovative way to partner with local farmers.

“It's a great preventative maintenance treatment, we put a lot of money into our roadways, the brand-new pavement and this is a great way to partner with our local community products that are actually coming from Clinton County,” he said.

Luke Meyer, an employee with Roadway Bioseal, helped apply the product to the one mile stretch of Colony Road.

“As asphalt oxidizes and ages, it becomes brittle, loses those light ends that keep it flexible. So we're introducing a agricultural soybean-based oil to the asphalt that will help it last longer in turn and support the local farmer,” Meyer said.

Soybean oil-based products have also been shown to be an eco-friendly alternative in road upkeep because they're biodegradable and don’t contaminate water.

Michigan Soybean Committee Chair Laurie Isley said this project is an opportunity for the state to begin exploring ways to replace petroleum-based products with sustainable ones.

“Soybeans are extremely versatile. Certainly the majority of our soybeans go into livestock feed and animal uses there. But more and more we're determining what the options are for using soybean oil in alternative uses. And Biorestor is just one of the ones that we see as a success story,” she said.

Clinton County Road Commission officials plan to continue monitoring the road closely on the ways it withstands the elements.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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