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Bio-resins for re-engineered UK wood products

A scoping study being conducted for the Forestry Commission

This project aims to provide the platform upon which ForestryCommission can evaluate support for emerging bio-resins and theirapplication in timber re-engineering industry in UK. The study consistsof an appraisal of the status of bio-resins worldwide and the driversand barriers dictating commercial growth, their fitness for purposeand viability for the timber re-engineering products, industry andrecognised experts in the field. The findings of the study shall thenbe developed into a series of recommendations and proposals,comprising a strategy for the further development of bio-resins in reengineeredUK timber products.

DEFRA has been supportive in developing new polymer resinsto create fully bio-based composites, such as boards in whichthe fibre component is made from hemp, flax or timber and theresin binder from rapeseed oil rather than the commonly usedsynthetic chemical resins. Considerable advances have been madeover the past 5 years. A range of adhesives have been derivedfrom natural oils such as Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) andvegetable oils (rapeseed, soybean, sunflower). The cost was asignificant barrier to the development of renewable materials,however, the production has become viable as technologiesevolve, and economies of scale come on stream, along with priceinflation of petroleum and increasing awareness relating to endof life disposal. Bio-resins can now be used as natural, sustainablealternatives to traditional petro-chemical derived materials such asphenol-formaldehyde and iso-cyanate resins in the manufacture ofcomposite products. Many of the synthetic resins are coming underincreasing restrictions due to tightening environmental exposureregulations. The industry risk losing key familiar resins in the future;hence the need to critically assess the opportunity for bio-resins. Thedevelopment of a bio-resin system for replacement of synthetic resinbecomes important for the present and future ‘green’ credibility ofre-engineered wood products.