EDITOR’S PICK: Soy is a renewable alternative to petroleum-based products. U.S. farmers grow more than 70 million acres of soybean plants each year with the help of the national soy checkoff program, which aims to promote a profitable soybean industry. Lysa Holland, an engineer at Pennsylvania State University, connected with Dr. Joseph Perez, an expert on bio-based fuels to begin developing a soy-based elevator fluid as a safe alternative in 1995. In 2002, the USDA successfully tested the product in the Statue of Liberty’s elevator. Since then, Penn State has begun using it to power elevators across their campuses and encourages other universities to do the same.
More than 100 elevators on Penn State's campus require hydraulic fluid, which is traditionally petroleum-based and problematic when there's a sprung leak.
Not long ago, the University turned to Penn State researcher Joe Perez, a renowned expert on bio-based fuels and lubricants, to help develop an alternative for the 17,000 gallons of hydraulic fluid used by the school.
Now Penn State is encouraging other schools to convert to soy-based and showing them how.