Conversion of Natural Adhesive to Marketable Form

EPA Contract Number: EPD04043
Title: Conversion of Natural Adhesive to Marketable Form
Investigators: Combie, Joan
Small Business: Montana Biotech SE Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2004 through August 31, 2004
Project Amount: $69,588
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Nanotechnology , SBIR - Nanotechnology , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Most of the 6 billion pounds of adhesives used in the United States each year are derived from petrochemicals; many still contain volatile organic compounds. Montana Biotech SE, Inc., has developed a process for producing a natural polymer with excellent adhesive properties. Tensile strength on bare aluminum is up to 10.3 MPa (1,500 psi). Made from a renewable resource, biodegradable, and safe for all life forms, this unusual polysaccharide could become an excellent green product. One technical problem, however, remains to be solved before it can be used in diverse markets. The material is water soluble. In most applications for adhesives, some degree of water resistance is essential.

The solution to this problem is more difficult than it might appear at first. The dilemma is that the same moieties responsible for the sensitivity to water also are responsible for the adhesive strength. Although numerous methods for converting a water soluble material into a water insoluble material are well known, most methods also would result in loss of adhesive strength. Montana Biotec SE, will develop four methods aimed at selectively or partially inhibiting interaction with water, leaving interaction with the adherend largely intact. Two approaches utilize protective mechanisms, while the other two involve cross-linking.

The goal of this Phase I research project is to identify a method to convert a water soluble natural adhesive into a water-resistant adhesive at a reasonable cost, while retaining the advantages of the environmentally friendly material. Both the U.S. and European markets have numerous uses for a green adhesive, including food packaging, manufactured woods (fiberboard, particle board), furniture, assembly, and footwear. The Department of Defense offers a large market for a water-resistant adhesive in clothing, temporary shelter, pallets, gaskets, interior aircraft panels, submarine interiors, and fieldable repair kits.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, natural adhesive, petrochemicals, volatile organic compounds, VOCs, natural polymer, polysaccharide, green product, water-resistant adhesive, EPA., Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Environmental Chemistry, New/Innovative technologies, Environmental Engineering, biodegradable, polymer, water resistant adhesive, alternative materials, green adhesive, environmentally friendly adhesive

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report