Breakthrough in search for new bio-based and non-toxic building materials

There is a strong growing demand for safe bio-based and bio-degradable binding agents. However, for a long time there were no bio-based thermoset binders available on the market. The CirBind project was the first of its kind and was finalized in October 2020. It managed to scale-up the current lab-scale production of a new, non-toxic, bio-based and bio-degradable binding agent.

Many construction materials such as wood panels, laminates and chipboards, contain toxic formaldehyde-based resins as binding agents. These thermoset binding agents are not only toxic but are also persistent pollutants and carcinogenic. The partners within the Cirbind project developed a unique, new and safe thermoset bio-resin. Not only is it a very good binding agent, the resin is also safe, 100% bio-based and recyclable. If it enters in the environment it is non-toxic and biodegradable.

Commercially relevant applications

The partners further developed the resin and its production process. In addition, they developed commercially relevant applications. The bio-based monomers that are used for the resin are made from industrial side streams (partly waste from bio-refineries) and are abundantly available and cost competitive. In addition, the new bio-resin has a negative carbon footprint in contrast to the fossil-based binding agents that are used now.

Today, the CirBind project has been able to scale-up the current lab-scale production of the resin to a 50-100 kg per batch production process. The project worked in close cooperation with knowledge institutes and end-users in order to develop three industrial-scale applications. CirBind has sparked a scale-up in the production of this bio-based thermoset resin and will shortly introduce the first applications in Europe.

Testable panels

Recently, the project produced its first panels. In addition, a series of testable panels have been made. A selection of various fibers has been tested with the resin and the resin-formula has been improved. As a result, the project team developed prototypes for sandwich panels, laminates, chipboards and wall panels.

Learn more about the CirBind project here.

The partners in this project are Everuse, Kenniscentrum Papier en Karton, Koskisen, Millvision, NHL Stenden, Plantics and the University of Amsterdam.

Cirbind - Leaf close up

The fourth edition of Natural Fibertastic takes place on Thursday, April 16th in Bergen op Zoom.

ISPT Conference 2018 - Plenary session

How can we implement a circular industry in all sectors?

The ISPT Conference is the annual gathering of the ISPT network. This year’s theme is circularity, a booming term in both industry as well as the public debate. How can we implement the goal of a circular industry in the different sectors, like Food, Paper, Steel, and Chemistry? 

After a plenary opening, we invite partners to discuss their ideas and best practices in workshops.

For the full program and registration, check the registration page.

Many construction materials such as wood panels contain toxic binders. These binders are persistant pollutants and carcinogenic as they are made of the hazardous formaldehyde-based polymer resins. There is a strong growing market demand for these safe bio-based and bio-degradable industrial (polymer) products, as there is no bio-based thermoset binder available on the market today.

Perspective

An invention of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is a polymer called Plantics-GX or simply GX. This is a polymer resin that is safe to use. It is 100% bio-based, recyclable, and if it enters in the environment it is bio-degradable. Moreover, it is a strong material and has very good binding properties. The spin-off company Plantics B.V. aims to further develop the production process, commercialize this invention and develop applications together with strong (market) partners. The monomers that are used for the process (partly waste from bio-refinery) of producing GX are abundantly available and very cost competitive. The product will have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than the type of binders that are used now. With 0.52-0.60 kg CO2 per kg product the carbon footprint of GX is 5-10 times lower than that of existing thermoset binders. This means that it possibly saves 80%-90% on CO2 emissions. The potential for replacement of current binders and thus CO2 reduction is huge. In Europe alone over 5 million tons per year of thermoset binders are used in construction materials. Plantics aims for a 20% market-share as a midterm target.

Scaling up GX resin

CirBind aims to scale-up the current lab-scale production of the GX resin to a 50-100 kg per batch plant at TRL5. The feedback from three high potential binder applications, partly in an industrial environment, is essential to adjust the production process in order to design and engineer a flexible production plant. Therefore this will be done in close cooperation with knowledge institutes and end-users of the selected applications. The resin will induce a step change in the production of this unique bio-based thermoset polymer and it will also be the first introduction of applications in the Netherlands and Europe.

Cirbrind - Generic industry pipes

Focusing on multiple aspects

The project entails both fundamental and application-oriented research combined with expert knowledge and the input from research institutes and end users. The project focusses on various aspects: on scaling up the GX bio-resin production; on the fundamental understanding of the chemistry of the polymerization for different formulations of the bio- resin and the interaction with other materials; on the development and testing of a specific binder application (one for each end-user). The ISPT will take care of the dissemination and the overall project coordination together with Plantics as project leader.

The project is executed in the Netherlands and Finland. The Cirbind project kicked off in May of 2018 together with the partners Plantics, UvA, Stenden university, Everuse, Millvision, KCPK, Koskisen and ISPT. It will be concluded in October 2020. The project is co-financed by an allowance of TKI-Energy of the Topconsortia for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI’s) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.