ARLINGTON, VA. — Richard Wool, a researcher at the University of Delaware, received the Innovations in Real Materials Award for his work on soybean-based plastics.
The award — offered by the Innovations Materials Conference — is one of 13 that recognizes research for materials that might be used commercially in the near future.
The conference brings together materials science engineers from around the globe who nominate their fellow researchers for the award. This year's conference took place in July in Arlington.
Funded by the United Soybean Board of Chesterfield, Mo., Wool developed plastic using soybean oil. He and his team recently began a second phase of research using genetically modified soybeans.
``The response from the composites industry has been most encouraging,'' Wool said in a news release. ``Several industries have expressed interest in the possibility of making the first, all-natural, high-performance composites using renewable soy resins with hemp, straw, jute or other materials for reinforcement.''
Wool's plastic currently is being tested as a prototype side panel for a John Deere hay baler.
The material would replace a metal door that weighs twice as much as the one made of soy-based plastic.