The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday three grants, including one to Ames-based Soylei Innovations, totaling $9.5 million to support the scale-up of sustainable bioproduct manufacturing in the U.S.

The funds are made available through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Bioproduct Pilot Program, which is authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. According to a news release, the pilot program is intended to “spur economic activity in the nation’s rural areas” and lower commercialization risks associated with bringing bio-based products to market. It is also part of the USDA’s effort to develop circular bioeconomies, where agricultural resources are harvested, consumed and regenerated in a sustainable manner, the release said.

“Adopting a more circular economy ensures that wealth and other economic benefits in the form of jobs and other opportunities are created, and stay, in rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We must support and incentivize practices like these, because it’s what consumers want — and what farmers, and our planet, need.”

Soylei Innovations is receiving a $4.6 million grant for a project that proposes to transform high-oleic soybean oil into thermoplastic rubber for pavements, which has the potential to extend repair longevity for existing surfaces. The paving solution can serve rural and underserved communities where road paving and maintenance budgets are underfunded due to a reliance on local tax revenues, the release said.

More information about the project and the grant is available at this link.