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Biomass Technology

New cellulose-based superglue created by international research team.

Microscopic view of the bonding process. ©Aalto University.

 “Good, green packaging with bad glue still renders the packaging bad.”

Researchers from Aalto University, the University of Tokyo, Sichuan University, and the University of British Columbia have developed a bio-based superglue.

The superglue, dubbed as an ‘eco’ glue, is based on plant-based cellulose nanocrystals mixed with water. According to the researchers, this glue has enough strength to hold up to 90kg weight, but can still be easily removed “by the touch of a finger”.

Dr Blaise Tardy from Aalto’s Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems (@AaltoUniversity) said: “The ability to hold this amount of weight with just a few drops is huge, especially from a natural plant-based solution.”

Conventional superglue, also known as cyanoacrylate, are made from synthetic polymers. The chemicals necessary to form cyanoacrylate polymer include ethyl cyanoacetate, formaldehyde, nitrogen or some other nonreactive gas, free radical inhibitors, and base scavengers.

According to the researchers, its new product is cheaper to make than conventional superglue and less complex because “curing time is associated with evaporation of the water phase” and “can be controlled, for instance, with heat”.

The academics also said its product will help companies and brands to have a fully circular solution if using the ‘ecoglue’ with their packaging.

“Good, green packaging with bad glue still renders the packaging bad,” Tardy said.

Aalto Professor Orlando Rojas added: “Reaching a deep understanding on how the cellulose nanoparticles, mixed with water, to form such an outstanding adhesive is a result of the work between myself, Dr Tardy, Luiz Greca, Professor Hirotaka Ejima, Dr Joseph J. Richardson and Professor Junling Guo and it highlights the fantastic collaboration and integration of knowledge towards the development of an extremely appealing, low-cost and safe application.”

The prospects for worldwide utilisation (€40bn industry) is quite attractive, according to the academics, given the ever-increasing production of cellulose nanocrystals seen across the globe, as supported by incentives in the framework of the circular bioeconomy.

“This truly exciting aspect of this is that although our new adhesive can be sourced directly from residual biomass, such as that from the agro-industry or recycled paper. It outperforms currently available commercial synthetic products by a great many measures.”

If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: Researchers assess the environmental impact of bio-based adhesives.

Read: Michelin-led project formed to create new SVHC-free bio-sourced adhesive resin.

Read: Take Five: Bio-based businesses aiming to stimulate positive environmental change via successful partnerships.

Read: Lidl unveils ‘ocean bound’ plastic packaging for its seafood lines.

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