A soyabean-based concrete protectant spray developed at Purdue University is being used in the USA to extend the life of concrete roadways and bridges, Inside Indiana Business wrote.

Jointly owned by Purdue University and the Indiana Soybean Alliance, the PoreShield product was developed by researchers in a bid to improve concrete stability and reliability, particularly on roads treated with calcium chloride (road salt) used in icy conditions, the 25 April report said.

PoreShield technical consultant Paul Imbrock, who helped develop the product while a student at Purdue, told Inside Indiana Business the product worked in a different way to traditional highway sealants.

“You can apply topically to new or old concrete. It absorbs deep into the pores of the concrete where it remains hydrophobic (repels water) and fluid. So, de-icing salts…can’t be absorbed into the concrete,” Imbrock was quoted as saying.

Imbrock said the barrier protected concrete against water, salt, melting snow and freeze/thaw cycles on roads and also prevented existing damage and deterioration from getting worse.

“PoreShield is not only… effective at reducing chloride ion diffusion, but it also increases the service life to concrete five-to-nine times longer,” Imbrock claimed.

The Indiana Department of Transportation had been using PoreShield on road projects throughout the state for three years and it had also been road-tested in Wisconsin and, at time of the report, was undergoing a major test in Illinois, Inside Indiana Business wrote.

The Illinois test was in partnership with the Soy Transportation Coalition, a national organisation comprising state soyabean associations and other agricultural groups, which was particularly interested in protecting rural bridges from deterioration, the report said.

“The reliability of the roads around them is critical. If you have to take every load of soyabeans five miles out of the way because the local bridge is closed, that is a significant encumbrance on a farmer,” Imbrock said, adding that rural counties often had limited budgets for road repairs.

In addition, the road protectant could also help with increasing market demand for soyabeans, Imbrock said

“One bushel of [soya]beans makes one and a half gallons of PoreShield. So, if we’re using 2,000 gallons, that’s about 1,300 bushels of [soya]beans we’re using… to protect the highway or long term,” Imbrock added.

Imbrock said transportation departments in the Pacific Northwest and East coast were also using the product.