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wood adhesive made from soy

This is a good story from CNN's website and has implications for lots of
industries that are major adhesive users.  More generally, this is the sort
of transition to renewable resource-based industrial chemistry that should
be encouraged.

July 31, 2000
Web posted at: 3:11 PM EDT (1911 GMT)
Soy adhesive friendly to environment, mills

A new wood adhesive made from soybeans is more environmentally friendly than
other bonding chemicals

In this story:

Adhesive will help with soybean surplus

A more secure bond


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Mike Lipke spent six months barking up the wrong
tree in a frustrating search for a better wood adhesive.

The Oregon lumber mill where he worked as a general manager was searching
for a glue to bond two pieces of wet wood that would not only be more
environmentally friendly but create a more dependable product and boost the
company's bottom line.

After experimenting with new formulas for half a year in the Hampton Lumber
Mills research lab, Lipke finally struck gold.

The industry-funded United Soybean Board, which looks for new uses for
soybeans, approached him with an adhesive that allowed him to
"finger-joint," or interlock, two blocks of wood. Lipke jumped at the

It "gives us a competitive advantage because raw material is the single
biggest cost for our company, 80 percent, so that is why the impact is so
significant. It adds up fast," he said.

Once Hampton Lumber Mills was convinced the adhesive worked, it wasted
little time committing to the new technology, spending $2.5 million to build
a plant devoted to the wet wood adhesive.

It is already paying big dividends. Lipke said his mill can use about 1
percent more of a tree's wood than with existing technology, translating
into a saving of about $200 per tree.

Adhesive will help with soybean surplus
The adhesive, a mixture of soybeans and petroleum, was first introduced in
1997 and approved for horizontal uses ranging from windows to doors and roof
supports last December.

The soybean board expects the adhesive to consume 23 million bushels of
soybeans annually by 2005, soaring to 150 million bushels a year once it is
approved for use with other types of wood such as plywood, the group said.

That is good news for American farmers, who have watched soybean prices
droop with ever-larger harvests in recent years. The U.S. Agriculture
Department predicts a harvest of a record 2.94 billion bushels of soybeans
this year.

Soybeans have long been used as a key ingredient in cooking oils, margarine,
salad dressings, snack foods, nondairy coffee creamer, tofu and animal

In addition to the adhesive, scientists have begun to develop a broad range
of industrial uses for soybeans including coatings, lubricants, plastics and
hydraulic fluids, all of which could help trim the number of soybeans that
sit idle each year.

The soybean adhesive has several advantages that proponents say greatly
expand market opportunities for the crop.

A more secure bond
Unlike petroleum adhesives that dilute when applied to wet wood, the
soybean-based adhesive forms a stronger, more secure bond that reduces
twisting in the finger-joint of the wood.

Jerry Scheid, who did research for the soybean project with Omni-Tech
International in Oregon, said such bonds will create more stable joints,
saving home builders hundreds of dollars in extra labor and material needed
to replace defects.

The soy adhesive is also applauded by environmental organizations, who
welcome an alternative to other petroleum-based adhesives that, while
cheaper to produce, are believed to contribute to ozone depletion and smog.

"It's good to see an alternative that has the potential to reduce health and
environmental risks found in petroleum-based adhesives that we know expose
people to dangerous chemicals," said Ed Hopkins, an official with the Sierra

Hampton is currently the only U.S. mill using the adhesive in finger-joints
but four other mills in North America are testing it. Many others have been
reluctant to switch because their equipment is not set to handle wet wood.

Others hesitate because it is still new, even though it has proven
successful in early testing.

Once mills discover the adhesive's long-term economic and environmental
advantages, more will adopt the new technology, Scheid predicted.

"It's basically education," he said. "With a new adhesive that will allow
them to increase efficiency and utilization of the tree, they are going to
start using it."

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Burton Hamner
Hamner and Assocaties LLC
5534 30th Avenue NE
Seattle WA 98105  USA
Tel:  206-526-5308
Fax: 208-279-4991
Email:  bhamner@cleanerproduction.com
Web:  www.cleanerproduction.com