Mussels, Soybeans and better plywood
Its Seafood Month at Treehugger. In March we saw how remarkable mussels are as a natural engineering achievement; and how abalone shell is stronger than titanium. To top it off, Kaichang Li of Oregon State University has studied the remarkable adhesive power of mussels, but knew that they could not be harvested in sufficient quantity to develop a successful adhesive. Over a lunch of Tofu he thought of adding the amino acid to soybean protein, making it work like a mussel-protein adhesive.While this might make for very sticky tofu it makes an inexpensive and renewable water-resistant adhesive that can replace formaldehyde-based resins in plywood, oriented strand board and particle board.
Formaldehyde fumes are believed to cause eye and throat irritation and has been shown to be a carcinogen, and is a major concern among architects and designers trying to build healthy and sustainable houses.
This is an important step in creating formaldehyde free homes at reason able cost, while increasing demand for soybeans and helping farmers.
"Based on the successful commercial application of our adhesives, the wood adhesive industry and wood products industry are going to see some major changes in the next few years," Li said. "It appears our adhesives will have a huge impact in the creation of improved wood products that work better and are safe in the environment."