90 percent of the adhesives in use are made from fossil resources. Many of the components used are easily flammable or release toxic compounds. Is it possible to also make alternatives from renewable resources for users in the wood-working and construction industries?
The “BioSet” cooperation project of the plastics cluster brought together several threads that were already working towards this goal:
The food company Agrana has been searching for new ways to use starch as a raw material in the adhesive sector. To do this, the carbohydrate chains of the starch have to be cross-linked, which is why lignosulfonates, which are made from wood and thus also from a renewable resource, are ideal.
The chemical company Metadynea Austria worked together with scientists from the wood research competence center Wood K plus to achieve cellulose-based adhesives by oxidizing the hydroxyl groups contained in the wood-based material. As part of the project, they are now taking the same approach with starch-based materials.
Scientific expertise for these projects also comes from the Institute for Environmental Biotechnology at IFA-Tulln and the Institute of Applied Synthetic Chemistry at the Vienna University of Technology. IFA-Tulln has worked intensively on the laccase enzyme class, which catalyzes both the oxidation of starch molecules and cross-linking via lignin sulfonates. At the Vienna University of Technology on the other hand, they have learned to use enzymes for “softer” synthesis routes and derivatizations. In the project, this is used to specifically induce oxidation of the functional groups in the carbohydrate structures of starch. In addition, they are helping to set up the necessary analytics to efficiently examine the desired functionalization of the starch.
After two years of the project, the researchers involved have gained a great deal of knowledge about the activity of the laccase used in various settings. The experimental setup for performing and analyzing starch oxidation has been further developed to enable a higher throughput. Different adhesive formulations were examined for their ability to bind woods and different ways of cross-linking were tested. At the end of the project, the fundamentals of a process should be developed that can be transferred to industrial scales.
Several Lower Austrian companies use aromatic hydrocarbons (especially phenols) in their production processes, which today are usually made from fossil resources (especially crude oil and to a lesser extent also coal). Is it possible to obtain such hydrocarbons from renewable resources?