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Tuesday, 24 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Raw materials

Formaldehyde-free adhesive for industrial use in the wood-processing industry

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

A new research project aims to come up with a formaldehyde-free, sustainable and non-toxic adhesive for industrial use in the wood-processing industry.

Formaldehyde-free adhesive for industrial use in the wood-processing industry. Source: pixabay.com/CCO

Formaldehyde-free adhesive for industrial use in the wood-processing industry. Source: pixabay.com/CCO

The formaldehyde-based resin manufacturing industry has been facing an increasing challenge since formaldehyde was classified as carcinogenic and mutagenic in the 6th adaptation to technical and scientific progress of the CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging) EU directive in June 2014. This classification has far-reaching and immediate consequences for a variety of business sectors, especially in the furniture industry.

Replacing phenol with lignin

In conjunction with the Institute for Materials and Wood Technology at the Bern University of Applied Sciences, Swiss-based Avalon Industries is launching the research project 'Development of a formaldehyde-free phenol type adhesive system for the manufacturing of plywood". "The aim is to develop a formaldehyde-free, sustainable phenol-HMF adhesive for industrial use in the wood-processing industry", says Thomas Kläusli, Chief Marketing Officer at Avalon Industries. "We consider 5-HMF to be the most promising formaldehyde alternative for future resin production. In addition to replacing formaldehyde, we will also be studying the replacement of phenol with lignin in order to achieve a truly 100% bio-based adhesive."

What is 5-HMF?

5-HMF is a bio-based platform chemical containing both an aldehyde and an alcohol functional group. The special characteristics of 5-HMF offer many applications in different industries. For example, the oxidation of 5-HMF to FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid) forms the basis for the manufacture of PEF (polyethylene furanoate). PEF is a bio-based substitute for petroleum-based PET and can, amongst other applications, be used in the manufacture of bottles for soft drinks or for food packaging. The research project may lead to various ways to employ 5-HMF as a substitute for the carcinogenic formaldehyde.

Key material Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a key material for the chemical industry, serving as the source for many chemical compounds. The EU produces approximately 10 million tonnes per year and 47 million tonnes of formaldehyde are produced worldwide. A large proportion of synthesised formaldehyde is used in the production of glues and impregnating resins for wood-based materials. Adhesive resins are used in the manufacture of particle boards, plywood panels and chipboards, where the furniture industry is one of the main users.

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