Project: Environmentally-friendly bioadhesives from renewable resources

Acronym WooBAdh (Reference Number: 74)
Project Topic Wood adhesives are of tremendous industrial importance as more than two-thirds of wood products in the world are totally, or at least partially, bonded together using a variety of adhesives. Synthetic adhesives greatly dominate the field of binders for wood and fiber panels, their annual world production running in the million of tons. Formaldehyde is a key building block in formaldehyde-based glues and resins used for the production of wood-based panels, which constitute more than 50% by volume of all the adhesives used today. The acceptable levels of formaldehyde emission from wood panel products have been continuously reduced over the last decades. The driving forces have been the increased public awareness and the consumer demand for non-hazardous products as well as the corresponding governmental regulations. Bio-based polymers such as proteins, tannins, lignins and carbohydrates are today being explored as possible adhesives due to their relative abundance and promising properties. Despite the intense research in this field, obtaining a natural free-formaldehyde formulation is still a challenge. This project aims to study the feasibility of replacing formaldehyde in wood adhesives by natural components derived from wood or other vegetable matter. The consortium will develop new bioadhesives which are able to provide a holistic solution to the current emissions challenges facing the wood-based composites industry. The proposed solution is focused on different modifications of polyphenols, namely lignin and tannins, for producing bioadhesives that do not contain formaldehyde in its formulation, eliminating in this way the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC). The substrates will be Kraft lignin, from the pulp and paper industry, hardwood Organosolv lignin, as well as mimosa, quebracho and chesnut tannins. Depending on the nature of the raw material, some substrates may need to be modified at different levels for increasing their reactivity. Chemical and enzymatic approaches will be applied to modify the substrates. Then, on the modified and unmodified materials novel reactions to produce the bioadhesives will be evaluated. The key aspect to obtain such bioadhesives is the system of hardening, without which any modification will be of no use. The consortium of the project is formed by five partners from four countries (France, Germany, Slovenia and Spain). The topic of the project is relevant to the economy of these countries. Germany is the leading country in the production of wood panels in the EU, being followed by other countries such as Poland and France. The EU wood panel industry has an annual turnover of about 22 billion euros, creates over 100000 jobs directly and counts with more than 5 000 enterprises in Europe. The use residual by-products (lignins, tannins) from important European industries (e.g. cellulose producers, 2G biorefineries) for producing a compound that is intended to replace a chemical with a high toxic and environmental load in the wood-composite industry foresees the application of circular economy, expanding the concept of biorefinery. The valorization of residual/by-products streams into bioadhesives, that will be used to reduce the release levels of VOC, will have a significant impact on the wood-based composite industry. Besides, different sectors of society ranging from wood-based composite industry, workers and people living around industrial plants using formaldehyde in their process, and the society in general, will benefit from the results of this project. The information and data obtained along the project will be managed and published taking into account the guidelines of the European Research Council, as stated in the implementation of Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data and FAIR Data Management, respectively.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
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Network ERA CoBioTech
Call ERA CoBioTech “Biotechnology for a sustainable bioeconomy”

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Santiago de Compostela Coordinator Spain
2 Universite de Lorraine Partner France
3 University of Ljubljana Partner Slovenia
4 Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg Partner Germany
5 Fraunhofer ICT Partner Germany