CORVALLIS, OR — Researchers at Oregon State University accidentally created a petrochemical-free adhesive that can be used in duct tape, stick-on notes and labels when their work on a different type of adhesive failed.
The research team, led by professor of wood science and Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winner Kaichang Li, was using vegetable oils to make an adhesive that could be solid at room temperature and melt in higher heat. Their attempts didn’t work out, but, Li said in a statement, “I noticed that at one stage of our process this compound was a very sticky resin. I told my postdoctoral research associate, Anlong Li, to stop right there. We put some on a piece of paper, pressed it together and it stuck very well, a strong adhesive.”
The new, pressure-sensitive adhesive can be made with a variety of vegetable oils (soy beans, corn, canola oil, etc.) and can be used to make all types of products that need adhesives, like postage stamps, stick-on notes, packaging tape and labels.
The environmentally benign adhesive would cost about half the amount of petrochemical-based alternatives and work just as well, according to the researchers. Oregon State has applied for a patent on the adhesive and is looking for a partner to develop and commercialize it.
The new adhesive adds to Li’s previous green chemistry work, which included the development of a formaldehyde-free adhesive for use in plywood and particleboard production in order to make the products non-toxic. For that work, which was inspired by the way mussels cling to rocks while being hit by waves, Li received a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2007.