New Uses for Soybean Hulls

Company Background 
MN Soybean Research & Promotion Council is made up of an elected board of 15 soybean producers from across the state. On behalf of Minnesota’s approximately 30,000+ soybean farmers, they direct the investment of soybean checkoff dollars in international and domestic marketing programs, research projects and education and technology transfer programs designed to increase the profitability of soybean production.

Open Innovation Challenge
Soybean hulls represent an opportunity for someone who can utilize the various components of the soybean hull to create new higher value products by further processing them through the use of microbial or bacterial process, extraction technologies, etc. 

Reason for Seeking External Innovation Partnership
Soybean hulls, the outer coating of a soybean seed, represents about 7-8% of a whole soybean seed.  That soybean hull needs to be removed at the first point of processing in order to efficiently extract the subsequent soybean protein (meal) and soybean oil.  The biggest end use market for soybean hulls is for fiber going into mostly ruminant feed. There are currently only a couple of industrial uses for soybean hulls, like bioremediation and as filler for a biobased plastic. Soybean hulls are currently valued at about $90-$140/ton (.04 -.07 cents/lbs.) dependent upon if they are sold in their extracted state or pelletized to reduce their volume.

Scope of Solution Space
Open to all ideas.

One area that might be explored is in the production of an organic compound called Furfural.  Furfural is only derived from lignocellulose biomass and is one of the oldest renewable chemicals.  Unprocessed soybean hulls contain 67% neutral detergent fiber, 49.3% acid detergent fiber, 2.3% acid detergent lignin, 17.7% insoluble hemicelluloses, and 47% cellulose. So soybean hulls may be a good candidate for the making of furfural.  Right now the global market for Furfural is 800,000 tons with China, Republic of South Africa and the Dominican Republic. 

Innovation Solutions Not of Interest
Not ruling out any new idea, even if it’s in the traditional animal feed market.

Proposal Response Date Deadline
August 28, 2020

Website Link    and

Contact Information
AURI / Bold Open at

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) oversees the investment of soybean checkoff dollars on behalf of approximately 25,000 farmers in our state. The council is governed by the rules of a federally mandated checkoff program that requires all soybean producers pay a fee on the soybeans they sell. This money is used to promote, educate and develop market opportunities for soybeans.