A new wood adhesive developed at Oregon State University (OSU) is drawing interest from around the world and is claimed to be leading a major shift away from formaldehyde-based composite wood products.
Portland, Oregon-based Columbia Forest Products is marketing plywood panels bonded with the adhesive as ‘PureBond’, but it is also now being made available to other manufacturers.
One of the first of its type that can cost-effectively replace urea-formaldehyde, the adhesive was originally developed by Kaichang Li, an associate professor of wood science and engineering at OSU, after watching mussels clinging to rocks while being pounded by waves on the Oregon coast.
Research on the chemistry of the mussels’ byssus – small threads which attach them to rocks and other surfaces – revealed a protein with an unusual chemical composition that allowed the mussels to stick tightly to surfaces despite being inundated in water. Later studies discovered that a similar protein could be created by modifying cheap, abundant and environmentally benign soy protein.
In collaboration with Columbia Forest Products and Hercules Inc (now Ashland Chemical), further work was done to turn the basic discoveries to commercial use.
The adhesive is now being used in hardwood plywood,
particleboard, MDF and other wood composite panels.