Green technology

Professor Howard Chandler at the University of Aberdeen is leading a research project to devise an environmentally-friendly binder for wood particles and wood chips.


Professor Howard Chandler, a Professor of Engineering at the University of Aberdeen,is leading a research project to devise an environmentally-friendly binder for wood particles and wood chips.


The result could produce huge benefits for the forestry sector and to consumers of wood-bonded products.


At present, wood products are bonded together using an adhesive, which is mixed with the wood and formed under heat and pressure. However, the prices of the bonding mix have risen sharply and, more alarmingly, one of its components, formaldehyde, is a known carcinogen.


Professor Chandler is developing the new binder with his colleagues Professor Fred Glasser, a Professor of Chemistry, and Professor Paul Mitchell, Director of Research and Commercialisation, within the College of Physical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, thanks to a £181,000 research grant awarded through Scottish Enterprise’s Proof of Concept Fund.


“If the forestry industry is to survive and prosper, a new and non-toxic bonding system has to be rapidly developed,” Professor Glasser said.


Glasser’s adds that the alternative bonding system his team have been experimenting with uses technology very similar to that currently in use, hence and only minor changes in processing are envisaged.


“The industry would reap huge benefits from this new system which would offer better fire resistance, a decrease in nasty chemicals, and water resistance,” he adds.


There would also be a marked reduction in ‘creep’ – which is the term used to describe the sagging of chipboard with the weight of heavy items.


The development of this new binder has only recently begun at the University and will continue over the next two years.