Green Technology Set To Transform Scotland's Forest Products Industry

A new, eco-friendly technology that has the potential to revolutionise Scotland’s forest products industry is to be developed thanks to a £181,000 research grant, which has been awarded to a team of engineers at the University of Aberdeen.

Professor Howard Chandler, Professor in Engineering, is leading the research project to devise an environmentally-friendly binder for wood particles and wood chips that would produce huge benefits for the forestry sector and to consumers of wood-bonded products. The research money was awarded through Scottish Enterprise's Proof of Concept Fund, which supports leading-edge technologies in Scotland's academic institutions, and aims to help export innovation from the lab into the global marketplace.

At present, wood products are bonded together using an adhesive, which is mixed with the wood and formed under heat and pressure. However, the prices of the bonding mix have risen sharply and, more alarmingly, one of its components, formaldehyde, is a known carcinogen. Professor Howard Chandler is developing the new technology with his colleagues Professor Fred Glasser, Professor in Chemistry, and Professor Paul Mitchell, Director of Research and Commercialisation, within the College of Physical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. Professor Glasser said: “If the forestry industry is to survive and prosper, a new and non-toxic bonding system has to be rapidly developed.

“We have been experimenting with an alternative bonding system using technology very similar to that currently in use and only minor changes in processing are envisaged.

“The industry would reap huge benefits from this new system which would offer better fire resistance, a decrease in nasty chemicals, and water resistance.

“There would also be a marked reduction in ‘creep’ – which is the term used to describe the sagging of chipboard with the weight of heavy items.”

The development of this new technology has recently begun at the University of Aberdeen and will continue over the next two years.

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