The versatility of vegetable oil-based products may surprise some consumers. For farmers however, it should be good news whenever there’s a breakthrough.
For many years vegetable oil-based plastics and other products have gained ground in the market. Now Oregon State University has news of potential for a new market for veggie-based oils: pressure-sensitive adhesives.
These adhesives are widely used on shipping labels and packaging tape — which, with the rise of online shopping, is getting more use these days.
The new adhesive has the potential to be eco-friendly and could be used on sticky notes, postage stamps and bandages. The current market for pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSAs), stacks up to be a multibillion-dollar business — but most are made from petrochemicals.
Kaichang Li, an OSU professor in the Department of Wood Science and Engineering, developed the new adhesive in work with Anlong Li, a postdoctoral research associate. Kaichang Li commented, “Our novel PSAs are the only vegetable oil-based, biodegradable and commercially viable [products] in the world. Biodegradable PSAs can alleviate the pollution of solid waste.”
He explained that the process of producing and using petrochemical-based PSAs can be time-and energy-consuming, and may involve the use of organic solvents. “Our PSAs use renewable materials, and manufacturing processes are simple and fast, as well as requiring much less energy than petrochemical-based PSAs,” he added.
The new adhesives can be cured under ultraviolet light in one second, making the cost of producing tapes and labels competitive with existing production processes. The new product was developed to meet the stringent needs of a Portland, Ore., company whose clients include firms from the semiconductor industry. OSU has filed a provisional patent for the formulations and the curing process.
Joe Christison, the senior intellectual property and licensing manager at OSU, added: “We hope to identify multiple licenses that will develop and commercialize PSAs based on the novel formulations.”
History of development
Kaichang Li has been researching adhesives derived from plant materials for more than a decade and has been recognized for his work.
In 2017, he won a Golden Goose Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for work on a soybean-based adhesive used in hardwood plywood manufacturing. He was inspired by the extreme rock-holding power of mussels.
In 2007, he was recognized with a Presidential Green Chemistry Award for inventing a nontoxic adhesive for wood composite panels. This award, from U.S. EPA, honors innovators who have helped reduce waste or toxins in manufacturing processes.
With this latest development, Li is building on his career.