A construction worker stands in the doorway of a building
 Plywood and chipboard are an increasingly common feature of walls, ceilings and flooring during construction. Image: Adobe

Finnish researchers find constructive solution that sticks

Researchers at Aalto University have developed a bio-based glue that can replace harmful adhesives in wood construction.

James O’Sullivan


The strong, non-toxic and fire-resistant eco-friendly glue is made using lignin, a structural component of wood and by-product of the pulp industry. Although it is responsible for giving wood its tough, strong structure, currently only 2–5 per cent of the lignin produced is used. These rest is typically burned for energy after wood is processed.

Aalto University’s solution can be created in a few minutes, significantly faster than the 10 hours previously needed for chemical-intensive pre-treatments. The purified kraft lignin and chemical reaction used to make the adhesive require no additional heating of the raw material and thus greatly reduce energy consumption.

Glued wood panels such as plywood and chipboard are an increasingly common feature of walls, ceilings and flooring during construction.

A hand holds a piece of plywood in front of a birch trunk

Using lignin as an adhesive material can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and increase the processing value of forests. Image: Aalto University

“It is important to overcome the disadvantages of wood-based panel adhesives and develop the new innovation into a commercial product,” said doctoral researcher Alexander Henn. “This would enable a shift towards more wood-based construction, as a strong and heat-resistant adhesive made from natural materials makes construction truly ecological and safe.”

The lignin content of previous adhesives has been around 20–50 per cent, whereas the Aalto University innovation has a lignin content of over 90 per cent. The researchers also point out that lignin can be used as a raw material for applications such as coatings and composites.

Latest news

The Innomost team pose in the forest
Sustainable Solutions
Finnish circular solutions continue to sustain a future approach
Piles of plastic waste
Finnish scientists break down problematic plastics with microbes
A woman yells with her hair blowing above her head
High technology
Finnish companies augment all kinds of experiences