By Gary Thomas
A research team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) are working on two projects to develop new adhesives using renewable raw materials.
This adhesive is based on the renewable raw material polylactic acid. (credit: Heike Holthausen, Westfälische Hochschule, Recklinghausen)
The team is developing a pressure-sensitive adhesive for industrial uses in collaboration with Novamelt, Logo tape and Jowat, University of Applied Sciences and the Westfälische Hochschule.
The project received support from the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in Germany. There are several products that use pressure-sensitive adhesives, including adhesive tapes, self-adhesive labels and adhesive bandages. Gentle pressure is required for these adhesive products to bond to almost all substrates and yet at the same time these products should be removed without leaving any deposit. In order to meet these requirements, the adhesive force ought to accurately match the respective application.
The major challenge for the UMSICHT team was to develop a backbone polymer, which imparts strength to the pressure-sensitive adhesives, from polylactic acid, which is a renewable raw material. The material is well-known for its low production cost and its properties are entirely different from the polymers that are used till date, such as styrene-based block copolymers and polyacrylates.
In addition, adhesives are found in different types of packaging, including laminating films that protect foodstuffs from chemicals, moisture and dirt. In another project, researchers from UMSICHT are jointly working with Deckert Management Consultants, Jowat and Achilles Papierveredelung Bielefeld to develop novel water-based dispersion adhesives for laminated products.
Dosima fascicularis, the buoy barnacle, produces a special biological adhesive, which it utilizes to attach firmly to flotsam. The adhesive becomes extremely strong and it is difficult to break it down using standard solvents. It has the capability to cure under water. Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) are currently working to discover which amino acid components form the relevant proteins.