Green adhesives: options for the Australian industry
These ‘green’ adhesives may have great advantages in being made of renewable materials, instead of price-variable petrochemicals, as well as being free of, or having very low levels of, formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) and other volatile organic compounds that occur in glues derived from petrochemicals.
Legislation in the USA and Japan has already reduced the allowed levels of formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, and it is probable that similar changes will occur in Australia and New Zealand within the next five to ten years, especially as consumers becomes more environmentally aware. New market opportunities and the demands of export markets may accelerate the need to find an economically viable ‘green’ glue.
This report reviewed in detail potential wood adhesives made using renewable materials such as tannins, lignin, oils, and proteins (in particular soy protein), and looked at the chemical structure of a number of the adhesives. Although the use of renewable materials has been researched actively for a very long time, many of the adhesive technologies are currently at the pre-commercial, pilot or laboratory scale demonstration phase.
The ‘green’ adhesives closest to commercial uptake are the Dynea AsWood technology (protein based) and the Ashland/Hercules Soyad system (soy protein based). The Ashland/Hercules Soyad system is advertised as suitable for producing particleboard, medium density fibreboard (MDF) and non-structural hardwood plywood. As of 2012 some of the protein-based ‘green’ adhesives are starting to appear in the Australian market because of their environmental credentials.
Currently these ‘green’ adhesives are more expensive than existing adhesives but they may have a niche market where there are strict controls on formaldehyde emissions. It is important to note that all of the ‘green’ adhesive technologies either still have a large component derived from petrochemicals or the renewable material has been chemically modified with petrochemicals.
The report recommends the Australian wood panels industry monitor the introduction of these ‘green’ adhesives technologies as they develop on an industrial scale internationally. The Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) is monitoring ongoing advances and keeping members aware of developments.
Source: R&D Works
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