February 15, 2017

Finnish technology cleans up wood products

Versatile Design produced the first demo products using VTT's CatLignin material.
Versatile Design produced the first demo products using VTT's CatLignin material.

A new method from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, known as ‘CatLignin,’ produces reactive lignin material that can replace toxic components found in adhesives widely used in engineered wood products, while also making the pulp industry more bio-friendly.

VTT‘s CatLignin technology produces reactive lignin from pulp industry side streams, an ideal substitute for the toxic phenol found in adhesive resins contained in a variety of engineered wood products.  

As lignin has approximately 20 per cent of phenol’s carbon footprint, using it as a phenol replacement significantly cuts down the emissions of engineered wood products and also reduces the usage of the toxic formaldehyde.

Put into perspective, around half of the carbon footprint of plywood is due to resin usage.

“The suitability of lignin for a variety of applications has been investigated for decades, but only now we have found a way to use it as a phenol substitute in significant quantities in resins,” senior scientist at VTT, Hanne Wikberg explains, in a release. “VTT’s CatLignin technology represents a technological leap, offering new business opportunities to many industrial players.”

These include, pulp mills, adhesive, wood product and laminate manufacturers, as well as their customers, such as furniture businesses.

The development of the CatLignin technology is funded by VTT and Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. VTT is currently looking for new partners to help commercialise the technology.

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