Wood Pulp Component Lignin Holds Promise as New “Designer” Adhesive Ingredient

Posted on 7/31/2018 10:24:13 AM By ASC

Adhesive chemistry has, up till now, been heavily reliant on petroleum-derived chemicals, but a team of researches says they may have found a renewable resource that could become an alternative.

The team from the University of Delaware has published a paper in ACS Central Science on the use of lignin, a substance from wood pulp that is discarded by pulp and paper manufacturers. Lignin is a natural polymer and shares many properties similar to those of the petroleum-derived polymers commonly in use in the adhesives industry.

First, the team had to find a way to break down the lignin into useful components. However, they found a common catalyst that allowed them to develop a low-temperature process that would perform the necessary depolymerization. These components were then used to formulate new materials that could be used in pressure-sensitive adhesives. The team says that its materials are not only “greener,” but also have comparable, or even better properties than traditional ones.

The team now wants to investigate results from different sources of lignin, including grasses. The theory is that they should be able to reverse-engineer the materials to have different levels of tackiness, making them suitable for different kinds of pressure-sensitive adhesive tape. However, this is no purely academic exercise. Recognizing the potential commercial significance of its discovery, the research team has filed for a provisional patent on its discovery.

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