Environmentally Friendly Borate-Based Wood Preservative

EPA Contract Number: EPD13033
Title: Environmentally Friendly Borate-Based Wood Preservative
Investigators: McIntyre, Craig
Small Business: Liquid Lignin Company
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: May 15, 2013 through November 14, 2013
Project Amount: $80,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Innovation in Manufacturing


This natural organic retention project proposes using lignin from emerging biorefineries to allow borates to be used as wood preservatives for exterior applications exposed to rain. Enhancing the retention of environmentally friendly borates has been the “holy grail” of the industry for decades. We believe this team and technical approach are very well suited for this challenge because:
  • The team has extraordinary experience with the topic. The PI has 4 decades of experience in the wood-treating industry and the technical team has insights from a similar project 5 to 10 years ago;
  • The lignins that will be evaluated will be available from a number of lignin manufacturing facilities, each making up to 50,000 tons/year, that are scheduled to start up in the near future. The first such facility will start up next year (2012), initiating an extensive supply of inexpensive lignin;
  • The team will use unique lignin pilot facilities to generate various molecular-weight fractions of lignin and evaluate their effectiveness; this pilot system is owned by Liquid Lignin Company, which is commercializing SLRP™ lignin technology funded by a DOR grant;
  • The team has an extensive network to tap emerging sources of lignin from biorefinery startups nationwide;
  • If this Phase I is successful, an environmentally friendly wood treatment system could be an order of magnitude less costly than the high-copper-level systems used today;
  • If this Phase I is successful, this team has the know-how and contacts within the industry to accelerate commercialization of the new wood-treatment systems.
This Phase I project will assess those new lignin sources for their efficacy, while simultaneously defining the characteristics of lignin (molecular weight, functional group distributions) that perform best in the screening tests, first to determine the strongest control variables, then generating response curves dependent on the stronger variables. Definitive cost estimates of the more promising systems will be completed in the latter step of Phase I, in addition to a plan for going forward in Phase II.

Supplemental Keywords:

wood preservatives, borate, lignin

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report