Sustainable adhesives: EU funds €4.5 million tree bark project

Sustainable adhesives: EU funds €4.5 million tree bark project

Sustainability

The Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU) has committed €4.5 million in funding to the SuperBark project, a pioneering initiative set to revolutionise the production of adhesives and coatings for wood panels and packaging paper.

SuperBark, coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, is embarking on a four-year mission to harness the potential of natural components found in softwood bark.

Traditionally, the adhesives and coatings used in wood-based consumer products have relied heavily on fossil-based and potentially harmful chemicals. This has raised environmental and health concerns, prompting the need for more sustainable alternatives.

SuperBark's objective is to develop eco-friendly adhesives and coatings with over 95% bio-based content, derived from pine and spruce bark – significant industrial byproducts in the forest industry. The project boasts a consortium of 12 partners hailing from eight countries and officially commenced on September 1, 2023, slated to conclude in August 2027.

Central to the project is the utilisation of polyphenols extracted from tree bark via an innovative alkaline fractionation process and cellulose nanofibrils obtained from cellulose-rich bark residues. These raw materials will form the basis for the creation, testing, and validation of adhesives and coatings.

SuperBark's overarching goal is to replace existing fossil-based solutions in consumer products across industries such as furniture, construction, transport, and packaging with greener alternatives. Throughout the project's lifecycle, a comprehensive assessment will evaluate the safety, sustainability, technical performance, and economic viability of these innovative adhesives and coatings.

Marc Borrega, Senior Scientist and Project Manager from VTT, said: SuperBark aims to eliminate consumer exposure to formaldehyde-based resins and per- and polyfluorinated substances used in coatings. The research will be guided by Safe and Sustainable by Design principles and will apply digital technologies to accelerate the development of adhesives and coatings into products with a long-lasting impact on human health and the environment.

The outcomes are expected to pave the way for further research and development efforts, ultimately driving the commercialisation of processes and products that reduce the dependence on hazardous fossil-based chemicals and polymers in wood-based applications.

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