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Earth-Friendlier Soy-Based Inks

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Earth-Friendlier Soy-Based Inks

Article excerpt

TRYING TO MAKE a good thing better, government chemists' research has led to development of a more fully biodegradable soybean oil-based ink. Other than its pigments, which use petroleum-derived organic compounds, all components of the new formula are made from soybean oil.

And as biodegradability increases with soy-based content, the percentage of highly regulated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) decreases.

According to a report in Agricultural Research, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tests last year on the ink showed degradability five times higher than that of petroteum-based inks with the same type and amount of pigment. It also proved superior to a lower-soy formula: 80% of the all-soy vehicle degraded in 25 days, while only 30% of a 67% soy-based vehicle degraded in the same time.

Part of a larger group researching uses of soybeans - ranging from foods to fuels to additives that reduce the required concentrations of herbicides - chemists Sevim Erhan and Marvin O. Bagby also have patents pending on heatset and sheetfed lithographic inks (the latter already tested successfully in two commercial printing jobs), and are at work on a flexographic ink formulated with components derived from soybeans.

Bagby, chief oil chemical researcher at the department's Agricultural Research Service at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, in Peoria, Ill., said the new litho ink uses modified soybean oil and newspaper industry pigments.

In a telephone interview, Bagby said he and Erhan had accomplished the complete replacement "of the petroleum resins that would be used normally in a lithographic news ink."

The entire vehicle, he added, is based on soy or some other vegetable oil, yielding a product containing approximately 80% soybean oil and 20% pigment. To use the American Soybean Association's logo, he noted, black news ink must have at least 40% soy content, and color must have at least 30%.

Erhan and Bagby obtained domestic and foreign rights to their patented web offset formulation. Bagby said he believes the first licensee, an Oklahoma City company, has yet to manufacture ink with the all-soy vehicle. He said the USDA is negotiating with an Illinois oil seed processing company, Quincy Soybean, for exclusive domestic and foreign rights to make the vehicle and market it to ink manufacturers. …

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