Non-Formaldehyde Biobased Phenolic Resins

EPA Contract Number: EPD12031
Title: Non-Formaldehyde Biobased Phenolic Resins
Investigators: Metrey, Daniel
Small Business: Luna Innovations Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012
Project Amount: $79,900
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Green Buildings


New products based on nontraditional and renewable feedstock need to be developed for both economic and environmental concerns. Bio-oils from biomass such as scrap wood, storm debris and even corn stover can be used to create phenol substitutes useful in the epoxy and wood-adhesive markets. This results in materials in which the end user (a builder for instance) may claim additional LEED credits. Simply replacing phenol with bio-oil in traditional phenol/formaldehyde resins does not entirely address the environmental concerns associated with some of these products, however, as formaldehyde is still a key component in Novolac- or Resol-based systems, regardless of phenol source (petroleum or bio-based). The possibility then remains for formaldehyde emission, which is undesirable for indoor air quality. Luna Innovations Incorporated proposes to demonstrate the use of the bio-oils in creating nonformaldehyde-based resins and thermoplastics. These polymers can be useful then in creating formaldehyde-free composite and adhesive materials that allow for increased “green material” incorporation into the building and construction industry, among others. The polymers and resins created during this program have the potential to be 100 percent bio-based. The prospect of biomass-produced phenolic materials has shown significant value for numerous markets, including the plastics, adhesives and pharmaceutical industries. The market segment of biopolymer-based materials is projected to grow at 27 percent per year, making it an attractive investment opportunity.

Supplemental Keywords:

Biomass, bio-oils, biopolymers, formaldehyde, green buildings, indoor air quality, LEED, phenolic resins, thermoplastics, SBIR, phenol substitutes

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report