Research & Innovation: Two Driving Factors for the Engineered Wood Industry

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Reactive lignin developed from pulp industry byproducts to replace toxic phenol compounds in wood adhesives and surf fins developed from biocomposite wood to drive the engineered woods industry.

The concept of green building is ubiquitous throughout the world and gaining significant owing to rise in environment concerns. Engineered wood play a crucial role in realizing the vision of green building by providing low emission levels. Various products are developed to by engineering wood to compose a structuring material in furniture and construction industry. Investment in continuous development of engineered wood enable manufacturers to serve customers as per changing demands. Customer demands are based on climates, appearance, and use of natural materials. Providing such material poses a challenge to manufacturers, which they strive to overcome with the help of engineered wood. In its recent report on the engineered wood market, Allied Market Research states that the market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 24.8% from 2016 to 2022. There is a trend of innovations and researchers implement technology to bring change in the industry.



New Research to Lower Impact of Wood Products on Environment:

The ongoing research activities are focused on developing environment friendly materials with the help of technology. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland developed a technology to produce reactive lignin from pulp industry byproducts. The technology, known as CatLignin can be used as a replacement for toxic phenol compounds in wood adhesives that are used in wood products and furniture. Phenol and formaldehyde adhesives were used in wood products and researchers are focused on development of bio-based adhesive to replace toxic and expensive adhesive components.

Superior reactivity of CatLignin enables replacement for phenol. CO2 footprint of lignin is very much lower to that of phenol. It is approximately 20 percent of CO2 footprint of phenol. Resins play a significant role in engineered wood products. They contribute to half of the CO2 footprint, so development of CatLignin would lower an environmental impact of engineered wood product by considerable amount.

“The suitability of lignin for a variety of applications has been investigated for decades, but only now have we found a way to use it as a phenol substitute in significant quantities in resins. VTT’s CatLignin technology represents a technological leap, offering new business opportunities to many industrial players,” said Senior Scientist Hanne Wikberg. Introduction of CatLignin would present new opportunities in the entire value chain along with positive impact on environment. This technology is a substitute for wide range of toxic chemicals used in adhesives, which are used in engineered wood products. Manufacturers with a vision to bring 100 percent bio-based wood products in the market can partner with researchers and take further steps for technology upscaling.

Biocomposite Wood to Increase Performance of Surf Fins:

Engineered wood is used in various applications and surf fins is one of them. Innovation has made its way in variety of sectors across the world. Surf equipment manufacturers are also among those who are riding on the wave of innovation. Future Fins, a surf equipment manufacturer has introduced a fin, RWC Keel manufactured with the help of composites for stand-up paddleboards. It is an environment friendly composite made up of wood-plastic composite and provides enhanced performance over traditional fins. They have manufactured this fin in an association with Green Dot Bioplastics.

The fin is a blend of reclaimed wood fibers with recycled plastic. Materials such as Kevlar and carbon fiber are used to produce a performance drive, high quality, and environment friendly fins. These fins are tested based on parameters including flex, rake, and flow to determine whether it meets performance demands. It was found that the product offers enhanced performance and lighter in weight as compared to product it intended to replace. Future Fins is endeavoring to produce more engineered wood products that utilize bicomposites.


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