For the last five years, the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) has worked with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotional Council (MSR&PC) to promote an environmentally-friendly USDA biobased certified asphalt preservation product called RePlay Agricultural Oil and Preservation Agent® (RePlay). RePlay is a patented product created and manufactured by BioSpan Technologies, Inc.
“Our farmer leaders have been very vocal about making sure that soybean checkoff dollars are utilized for not only developing new value-added products but also ensuring there is a market and demand. Investing in soy biobased pavement preservation products like RePlay has shown to be a win-win for both Minnesota soybean farmers, as well as our state,” said Mike Youngerberg, senior director of product development and commercialization for MSR&PC.
In May 2021, AURI and MSR&PC released a third-party validation prepared by SRF Consulting Group, Inc (SRF) of the infrastructural and economic performance of RePlay. The “RePlay Pavement Preservation and Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (Phase 2)” report reviews 24 years of data from the City of Hutchinson, Minnesota, including eight years of RePlay use on local asphalt roads to determine that the sealant could extend a road’s service life by three and a half to 11 years.
“The main takeaway from the report is the results of a data-driven analysis of RePlay and how it can be a benefit to a pavement program,” said Jackie Nowak, the report’s project manager and data analyst, as she expressed her excitement for the industry trend towards a more data-driven approach.
For the first phase of the study, AURI worked with SRF to model RePlay use scenarios for determining the product’s effectiveness and to build a Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA). The results of the initial modeling showed that RePlay use reduced asphalt distress (cracking) by up to four times relative to roads that received standard maintenance.
With the model application scenarios showing a strong benefit, the SRF team revisited the first study with three years of additional data for the phase two report. With the new data, updated calculations were used to create two additional models to determine asphalt road service life extension. Taken together, the two model approach indicates the City of Hutchinson is likely to see years of additional service life from asphalt treated with RePlay.
The team also completed a sensitivity analysis based on accepted Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT) methodology as a part of the LCCA. The sensitivity analysis illustrated RePlay use incurred a lower cost over the base case scenario of untreated roads with standard maintenance.
“Another key takeaway is the statistics behind the evaluation. At least in the case of the City of Hutchinson, there is a significant difference in RePlay treated pavement over time – especially in comparison to untreated pavement and chip-sealed pavement,” said Nowak.
In all, the new study underscores the economic viability of RePlay for public agencies when it comes to reducing maintenance costs of low-volume roads.
“We could easily see three or four treatment cycles over 15 – 20+ years, where we treat a roadway before it would require any higher-level maintenance,” said John Olson, public works manager for the City of Hutchinson. “That would be incredible. Especially in Minnesota where winter is hard on us.”
Public transportation agencies can have confidence in predicting the financial return of RePlay pavement preservation treatment since the methodology followed in this study includes a sensitivity analysis established in fundamental life cycle cost analysis theory. The financial benefits of adopting soy-based asphalt preservation products do not end at the city line but extend to regional soy farmers as another value-added market opportunity.
“Seeing the results of using RePlay on treated surfaces has confirmed the benefit of being innovative with checkoff dollars. Our farmer leaders continue to think outside the box when it comes to investing in new and fresh ideas. RePlay is a great example of this,” said Youngerberg.
The technology is being used successfully in the State of Minnesota as well as many other states, including Oregon, Nebraska, and Iowa.
“If your roads are good, you want to keep them that way,” said Olson. “RePlay appears to be a cost-effective solution that does just that.”
To read the full report,“RePlay Pavement Preservation and Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (Phase 2),”and learn more about AURI’s work with the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, go to auri.org/minnesota-soybean-research-and-promotion-council.