Few plants show up on the table in as many forms as the soybean. This hairy legume has been an important component of various foods and drugs in asia for over 5,000 years. In that time, it has been squeezed, pressed, boiled and engineered into soymilk, tofu, edamame, sprouts, flour, or vegetarian cheeses. Soybean oils are also found in soaps, cosmetics, plastics, clothes and biodiesel. Soy is everywhere and now we can literally surround ourselves with the stuff by using it as foam insulation in our homes.
Insulation is appealing to homeowners because it reduces energy costs: A properly insulated home will stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter since the flow of heat is restricted. This cuts down immensely on heating and cooling costs. Not only that, but thicker, insulated walls absorb sound, so neighbors yelling at the traffic passing by won’t wake you up at night.
Most traditional insulation materials are non-biodegradable polystyrene and polyurethane blends, which require petroleum for production. A soy based foam, on the other hand, is just as easily sprayed throughout the home and besides having the highest percentage of renewable resource ingredients, it is also biodegradable.
Ohio based Emega technologies proudly states that “EMEGA Soy-based Spray Foam Insulation is manufactured from renewable American grown soy beans. Among its best features is that it expands to 100 times its volume to completely fill every space and void creating a barrier and thermal seal. The EMEGA thermal seal keeps your heating and cooling costs low. The barrier keeps pollutants out of your home and greatly reduces noise pollution. As an inert substance EMEGA Soy-Based Spray Foam Insulation retains its structural integrity for the life of your home. It is not effected by moisture, mold, insects or rodents.”
Bio Based Insulation is another company specializing in Soy based insulation. Their success is obvious, with an article about the company finding its way into magazines on a regular basis since 2003. They developed the first water-blown, closed-cell spray foam, which eliminates the need for spraying agents than contain harmful chemicals. Once sprayed, the foam does not shrink or settle and is comparable to, if not better than, other insulation products.
An average home requires about 2 acres of soybeans for full coverage. The foam lasts practically forever, and with a 30-50% reduction in energy usage per home because of added insulation, these beans are definitely being put to good use.