Soybean: Electricity

ambience Bubbling soy fluid


We’re in a laboratory where a large container of soybean oil is bubbling away. But what scientists are cooking up here is no kitchen experiment. It’s a liquid that could lead to environmentally safe electrical power. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. The soybean oil is being boiled in a humidity cabinet, which measures the oil’s ability to prevent rust.

ambience Electric buzz

That’s the sound of another experiment, to determine how well soybean oil serves as an electrical insulator. Soybeans are grown mostly for livestock feed, although some are used for human foods, such as soy milk. But here at the University of Northern Iowa, they’re developing soybean oil for industrial uses. One product is a fluid that’s used in electric transformers.

“Any oil in a transformer serves two basic functions. One is to cool the transformers. Heat is generated in the process of the transformation. The other part is as an electrical insulator to keep any sparks or anything from occurring inside the transformer.”

Glenn Cannon is General Manager of Waverly Light and Power, a community utility company in Iowa. He’s helped develop and test the soybean-based transformer liquid.

“The biggest problem with transformers in general is if you have a spill. Back a few years ago, most electric utilities had PCBs in transformers. We found those to be carcinogenic. Utilities have spent millions of dollars replacing transformers and transformer oils to get rid of PCBs.”

Soybean oil is a renewable resource, nontoxic and biodegradable, and it can be recycled after its use. The Nebraska Power District, which provides electricity to about a million people, is now testing soybean fluid in its transformers. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.

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Soybean: Electricity

A vat of soybean oil is bubbling away at a lab in northern Iowa, and it's not making french fries. This liquid that could lead to safer electric power.
Air Date:09/26/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

ambience Bubbling soy fluid


We're in a laboratory where a large container of soybean oil is bubbling away. But what scientists are cooking up here is no kitchen experiment. It's a liquid that could lead to environmentally safe electrical power. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. The soybean oil is being boiled in a humidity cabinet, which measures the oil's ability to prevent rust.

ambience Electric buzz

That's the sound of another experiment, to determine how well soybean oil serves as an electrical insulator. Soybeans are grown mostly for livestock feed, although some are used for human foods, such as soy milk. But here at the University of Northern Iowa, they're developing soybean oil for industrial uses. One product is a fluid that's used in electric transformers.

"Any oil in a transformer serves two basic functions. One is to cool the transformers. Heat is generated in the process of the transformation. The other part is as an electrical insulator to keep any sparks or anything from occurring inside the transformer."

Glenn Cannon is General Manager of Waverly Light and Power, a community utility company in Iowa. He's helped develop and test the soybean-based transformer liquid.

"The biggest problem with transformers in general is if you have a spill. Back a few years ago, most electric utilities had PCBs in transformers. We found those to be carcinogenic. Utilities have spent millions of dollars replacing transformers and transformer oils to get rid of PCBs."

Soybean oil is a renewable resource, nontoxic and biodegradable, and it can be recycled after its use. The Nebraska Power District, which provides electricity to about a million people, is now testing soybean fluid in its transformers. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.

music