Promoting Innovation in Manufacturing

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Project context and objectives

The long-term objective of the WOODLIFE project is to provide coated and glued wood products with substantially improved durability for a more sustainable society. The project aims to develop new water-based clear coating systems for wood with improved ultraviolet (UV) absorbing properties, as well as develop new water-based thermoplastic wood adhesives with improved mechanical properties. The new coating and adhesive systems will be designed through molecular manufacturing of inorganic nanoparticles, nanoclays and composite organic-inorganic binders with predictable and controllable properties.

If the mechanical properties of water-based thermoplastic wood adhesives such as Polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) can be improved it would be possible to use the wood products based on these systems for a longer time, leading to a more sustainable society. It would also be possible to use PVAc adhesives instead of the more expensive Melamine urea formaldehyde / Phenol resorcinol formaldehyde (MUF/PRF) adhesives in some load-bearing applications. Engineered nanoparticles will be developed in the project and will be introduced into wood adhesives in order to improve the properties of wood-adhesive joints.

The nanoparticles and nanoclays that will be developed in the project will either be added directly to water-based systems or incorporated in hybrid binders in order to improve the dispersion of the nanoparticles and to improve storage stability.

The expected final results from the WOODLIFE project include

  • a novel water-based clear coating to be used for wood applications with the following properties: UV-absorption 250-440 nm, high transparency, 2-5 times longer service-life of coated wood panels compared to the reference systems used today (estimated from accelerated weathering test);
  • a novel water-based wood adhesive (PVAc) with the following properties: low cold creep of corresponding wood joints, temperature resistance of corresponding wood joints, low formaldehyde content.

The new PVAc adhesives that will be developed in WOODLIFE with improved mechanical properties may compete with the traditional formaldehyde-based system for some wood applications.

Future Benefits

The use of more durable wood adhesives will extend the service life of glued wood products and this will also contribute to a reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere. The wood working industry is a very important industrial sector for Europe and with the development of improved clear coatings and adhesives systems, a positive development of this sector is predicted.

The market for wood adhesives is estimated to be 4 million tonnes per year worldwide of which 600,000 tonnes are produced in Europe. If the creep and thermosensitivity of the PVAc adhesives are sufficiently reduced, it is expected that part of the more expensive MUF adhesives can be replaced by PVAc adhesives. It is also likely that an increased technology gap between Europe and the rest of the world will increase the amount of adhesives produced in Europe securing more jobs in Europe.

The use of adhesive chemicals only makes 3% of the worlds’ fastening market. There is an increasing demand from the construction and assembly industries for adhesives that can replace mechanical fixing industries. Thus, the potential for growth of the adhesive market at the expense of the traditional mechanical fixing technologies is enormous, but this growth can only be realised if adhesive technologies can be enhanced so that they achieve the necessary performance for replacing existing technologies. The new WOODLIFE adhesive systems can contribute to this development.