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Development and pilot production of SUStainable bio BINDer systems for wood based panels

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SusBind (Development and pilot production of SUStainable bio BINDer systems for wood based panels)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-04-30

The overall objective of the SUSBIND project is to produce and test, in an industrially relevant environment (TRL5), bio-based binders as alternative to formaldehyde-based binder currently used in the production of wood-based panel board.
Several market factors are driving major changes in the composition and technology of these adhesive systems in the EU. Upcoming regulations foresee reduced formaldehyde emissions from furniture due to its effects on indoor air-quality. Manufacturers have made several attempts to produce alternative binders from renewable resources, but a bio-based binder able to compete at industrial scale with incumbent chemicals does not yet exist.
In order to cope with increasing global consumption and climate change, innovative products in the wood-based panel mass market are urgently needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependency on fossils.
Specific Objective 1: To select the most sustainable feedstock from starch-based and vegetable oil-based biorefineries was was successfully completed in Period 1.

Specific Objective 2: To develop, scale up and validate (TRL5) chemical routes for the synthesis of carbohydrate-based amino-plastic, and other wood adhesive systems, by in-situ polymerisation of urea and other monomers with reactive intermediates derived from high purified carbohydrates and use the chemicals produced accordingly as bio-based binders for wood board production.
Deliverable D2.1 marking the end of task 2.1 was improved and extended on request of the experts during the P1 review. A literature study on 5-HMF as monomers for bio-based adhesives was summarised in a review article and published in ChemSusChem and first adhesives were produced from different carbohydrates and 8 different amine crosslinkers.
The resin recipe developed by WoodKplus for a resin based on Fructose, 5-HMF and BHT reached the benchmarks set by Egger in Task 2.4 for the start of pilot resin production. Therefore, milestone MS3: “The lab scale recipe of first carbohydrate-based resin is validated (TRL4) to start pilot scale binder production” (M23) was achieved and the scale-up process has started.

Specific Objective 3: To develop, scale up and validate (TRL5) a new enzymatic technology, for the selective epoxidation of unsaturated plant fatty acids and oils with peroxygenases to be used as bio-based binders for wood board production.
Extensive scientific work has been carried out to develop, scale up and validate an epoxidation enzymatic technology, which have resulted in an impressive list of results and publications (in ACS Catal, Catal Sci Technol, Appl Environ Microbiol and Biotechnol Adv). The last set of fungal strains was analyzed in search for better UPO producers, and previously unknown UPOs were made available by identifying the corresponding genes in databases and using heterologous expression systems. Taking advantage from these systems, computer assisted design and production of a set of engineered variants of rCviUPO, rDcaUPO and rMroUPO was carried out demonstrating the feasibility of tailoring these enzymes for selective epoxidation of the different target fatty acids.
Then, epoxidized products were generated with selected enzymes for the modification of saponified oils as ingredients for carbohydrate-based bio-binder. For validation of the enzymatic epoxidation technology, production of two UPOs (MroUPO and MweUPO) was scaled up and used to epoxidize sunflower oil hydrolyzates. For each of them, downstream processing was optimized and ~20 g of epoxidized oil hydrolyzate were transferred to Cargill for evaluation. Simultaneously, lipase-peroxide is being applied as a more easily scalable (chemo)enzymatic technology for epoxidation of the different target lipids, and the first samples were also transferred for evaluation. In sum, work is going to plan, and the objective is still relevant and achievable within the time and resources available.

Specific Objective 4: To validate the novel bio-based binders, derived both from carbohydrates and oils supply chains, in industrially relevant environments (TRL5) and particularly for Particle Boards (PB) and Medium Density Fibre Boards (MDF) with the scope of obtaining comparable or superior mechanical properties and lower emission profiles than current state of the art boards using common mineral oil-based binder chemicals. The produced wood panels will be first tested at the production sites and subsequently by Ikea as the end user in the value chain.
The precursor recipe has successfully been transferred by from a small-scale tube reactor to a 1 litre high pressure reactor. The initial recipe has been reworked to allow the manufacturing of a precondensate without the need of removing high amounts of excess water, nonetheless with a reasonable amount of HMF. There is still optimization work to do to decrease the amount of insolubles. The recipe and the manufacturing process is in place and is ongoing to deliver the results according to plan.
Specific Objective 5: To ensure that the produced bio-based resin developed has a lower carbon footprint and human health impact when used in a binder system than the current formaldehyde-based binder systems and the bio-based binder is in line with all relevant market, standardisation and regulatory requirements.
The D5.3deliverable analysed the carbon footprint of the Fructose-HMF-BHT resin developed in WP2. Based on its results, the Fructose-HMF-BHT adhesive systems are estimated to have a higher carbon footprint than the benchmark state-of-the-art UF adhesives, while offering lower human health impacts due to the absence of formaldehyde. D5.3 proposes various options to reduce the carbon footprint of Fructose-HMF-BHT adhesive systems and limit uncertainties in the analysis. Market and policy developments have been monitored and analysed.

Specific Objective 6: To develop and implement a DEC strategy & plan to enhance innovation capacity and integrate new knowledge of both the partners involved in the resins and wood-based board sector as a whole.
SUSBIND DEC activities from November 2019 to April 2021 were significantly influenced by the COVID19 pandemic, negatively affecting the participation in live events. Nevertheless, five face-to-face events before the pandemic and 6 online conferences took place. A stronger visual presence via videos and visual materials and an intensified activity across social media successfully remedied the obstacles caused by the pandemic. In total, seven videos, one of which animated, were created as part of the new visual strategy.
In total eight publications saw an open access launch and four non-scientific publications were made in relevant international magazines and platforms. There was a booklet feature and an interview in the international press, two newsletters and two press releases were published as well as eight blogs on the project website.
The resulting SUSBIND binder system aims to outperform current fossil-based binders containing a significantly lower carbon footprint (25% reduction), while also reducing formaldehyde emissions (50 - 75%) which will have positive effect of the indoor air quality and hence human health as well as climate. A sustainable and economically viable binder will increase the marketability of bio-based furniture products with a minimum cost increase of production.
SUSBIND collage