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New projects will make the fibreboards of the future more environmentally friendly

Fibreboards are widely used in the furniture and construction industries. Two new projects at Linnaeus University, which have been supported by Vinnova, aim at reducing the impact of the boards on the environment. This is done by developing a new type of adhesive based on starch and a water repellent formulation based on tall-oil.

There are many types of fibreboards with varying density. These versatile boards that consist of wood fibres pressed together under high pressure are used frequently in furniture, joinery and buildings. But even though they are made with wood as a base material, it is possible to make them even more environmentally friendly.

"Most types of fibreboards contain adhesives as a binder and water repellents to protect the wood fibres. These are often based on compounds that are not very environmentally friendly. By using more natural products, we can reduce the environmental impact of the boards and also increase the possibilities for recycling", says Stergios Adamopoulos, professor of forest products at Linnaeus University.

Stergios is responsible for two new research projects aimed at this. The projects have a total budget of SEK 12.4 million, of which 6.0 million is a contribution from Sweden’s innovation agency Vinnova, within the framework of the strategic innovation program BioInnovation. One project will develop and test adhesives based on modified starch. These may replace the petroleum-based formaldehyde resins used today and also make it possible to recycle fibreboards instead of incinerating them, as now.

The second project aims to utilise residual products formed in the distillation of tall-oil to create water repellent formulations for fibreboards. In addition to replacing paraffin wax, which is also petroleum-derived, with renewable mixtures, the idea is that these will provide better water resistance of furniture components.

"My research group and I are very enthusiastic about being able to work with important players throughout the value chain over the next two years, such as Lantmännen, SunPine and Ikea, to create more sustainable wood-based products", says Stergios Adamopoulos.

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