This Wednesday, July 14th, join Julia Brown, Ohio Soybean Council Communications Manager, as she visits with Barry McGraw, the Chief Laboratory Officer at Airable Lab. Airable Research Laboratory is a unique research laboratory, in that it was started and is funded by soybean check-off dollars from the Ohio Soybean Council. “Airable Lab is the only soybean check-off funded lab that I know of in the country focused specifically on soy-based product R&D,” said Barry McGraw, Chief Research Officer at Airable Research Laboratory.
McGraw was first introduced to the Ohio Soybean Council while working in the Advanced Materials Group at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, conducting product development for the soybean check-off. When the vision to create Airable Research Laboratory became a reality, McGraw was a natural choice to lead the team. Airable now has 4 full time research scientists, 2 research interns, a business administrative assistant, and McGraw serving as the Chief Officer.
Since it’s inception, Airable has had a good deal of success. The Ohio Soybean Council and Airable Research Lab was just granted a patent for Roof Maxx ®. This is a registered technology that was developed by Airable. It is a soy-based, sustainable product that rejuvenates asphalt roof shingles and is being marketed and used all across the country.
Current research and product development at Airable includes a soy-based, pressure sensitive and biodegradable adhesive for packaging applications. “This product is for Franklin International, here in Columbus,” said McGraw.
“Another product under development is a soy-based ultra-violet (UV) curable coating. It works as a UV protectant and can be used on all sorts of products,” said McGraw.
“We are also developing a concrete and chimney soy-based sealant,” said McGraw. “This can be used on a number of applications and will seal the concrete and protect from water damage. We are also working on a two-part soy-based epoxy adhesive currently.”
“We’ve been reaching out to commercial companies,” said McGraw. “Once a relationship starts, then they contact us for specific needs. They are often looking for an alternative solution, weather it is reducing volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in their products, or to replace a petroleum material because that is what their customers are demanding.”
“One reason we are doing this, is that we are trying to take out the middle man and get more for the same. Nearly 3-4 times more research hours and more development can be achieved for the same money by conducting it ourselves in our own facility. We are making the farmer’s check-off dollars go further,” said McGraw. “This also allows us to engage directly with commercial companies, thus getting products on the shelves faster. We are not at the mercy of another organization trying to get our product out. We are taking control of our own destiny.”
Currently about 50% of the research is for commercial companies, and the other 50% is internal research projects. “We would like that to eventually get to about 75% for commercial companies, and 25% internal research,” said McGraw.
“A goal in the future, as Airable grows, is to potentially match Ohio soybean check-off dollars with income earned through royalties, or by conducting research projects for other states’ soybean check-off programs,” said McGraw. “This year the Illinois Soybean Board is funding two projects at Airable.”
Soybeans are Ohio’s largest cash crop, and Ohio rank’s 7th in the nation for soybean production. “Airable Research Laboratory works every day for Ohio’s soybean farmers,” said McGraw. “I think it is a good value, and there are going to be a lot more things to celebrate moving forward.”