Commercialization of a Formaldehyde-free Soy-based Adhesive for Production of Plywood

EPA Contract Number: EPD11069
Title: Commercialization of a Formaldehyde-free Soy-based Adhesive for Production of Plywood
Investigators: Kesinger, Nicholas
Small Business: Lao K LLC
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: May 1, 2011 through April 30, 2013
Project Amount: $224,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2011) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Green Buildings


Interior wood composite panels are widely used for furniture, bookshelf, kitchen cabinets, flooring, and other building materials, and are predominantly made with carcinogenic urea-formaldehyde (UF) resin. New formaldehyde-free wood adhesives that mainly consist of abundant, renewable, and readily available soybean flour and novel curing agents have been developed in a laboratory and successfully used for production of plywood in mill trials in the project funded by an EPA phase I grant. One of the most promising soy-based adhesives consists of soy flour and a natural product and is 100% based on natural materials, that is, does not contain any petrochemicals or petrochemical-­based products. The adhesive does not contain formaldehyde and will not emit formaldehyde or any other hazardous volatile organic compounds. As far as we know, this is the most environmentally friendly, green wood adhesive in the history of wood adhesives. This adhesive is superior to the UF resin in terms of the strengths and water-resistance of resulting wood composite panels. The overall goal of this project is to commercialize fully this new soy-based adhesive for the production of plywood in a commercial plywood mill. If this project is successful, the new adhesive is expected to be highly environmentally friendly, based on 100% natural materials, and cost-competitive to all competitive wood adhesives in the market. The results of this project will improve greatly indoor air quality and our working and living environments, significantly reduce the use of petrochemicals in building materials, and greatly enhance global competitiveness of the U.S. wood composite manufacturers. This project addresses this program priority:  “A. Green Building Materials and Systems.”

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, EPA, green buildings, plywood, wood adhesive, soy-based adhesive, renewable materials, wood adhesives, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-free adhesive, plywood production, sustainable

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Mill Trials of a Novel Formaldehyde-Free Soy-Based Wood Adhesive for Making Plywood