Gasoline isn't the only petroleum-based vehicle fluid researchers are hoping to replace with a renewable, less polluting alternative. One group is looking to replace conventional engine oil with a vegetable-based lubricant.

Researchers at the University of Colorado and Agro Management Group Inc. of Colorado Springs recently penned an agreement with Michigan-based Thumb Oilseed Producers Coop. to license the technology used in producing its soy-based engine lubricant.

The lubricant, currently produced using 10% to 20% soybean oil in a monounsaturated vegetable fatty acid base, can be produced at a reasonable cost and performs with similar results as traditional petroleum oil, say the researchers. And it produces fewer hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions when used in most engine applications.

Current studies are looking at reformulating the soybean oil, potentially allowing for up to 70% of the engine lubricant to be comprised of it.