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Stora Enso introduces NeoLigno a promising bio-based alternative

 Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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With a vision to turn woodworking industry safe and toxin free, Stora Enso introduces a promising bio-based alternative for fossil-based binding agents, NeoLigno. Stora Enso was able to develop NeoLigno, a lignin-based binder and a bio-based cross-linker. A key benefit of Neoligno is that it can be run in an existing production line. According to Stora Enso’s senior specialist Sara Faldt, this is a major advantage in the complex and advanced production process of particle board.

At present, many building and construction products rely on the use of traditional formaldehyde-based chemistry to produce items such as wood panels, furniture, and insulation material.

However, due to the European Chemicals Agency’s classification of formaldehyde as carcinogenic, the potential risks and drawbacks of this technology have come under scrutiny. Regulations are becoming increasingly stringent, with some people even predicting a complete ban on formaldehyde in the near future. What if there was a binder that possessed all the technical qualities of traditional binders, but made completely out of biobased raw material and was free of formaldehyde.

Traditionally used raw materials like phenol and formaldehyde are toxic chemicals. Not only do they impose risks on the working environment during production, but they also affect the end user’s indoor air quality, says Heikki Lotti, Sales Manager at Stora Enso.

The rapidly increasing interest for using biopolymers from renewable resources has led to significant R&D developments toward the use of biopolymers in binders. This is where lignin, the natural glue in plants, has obtained much traction due to its phenolic structure. But without the toxicity that phenol has. This pulp side-stream and renewable raw material has been found to be particularly effective in substituting phenol in the synthesis of phenolic resins – thus getting rid of toxic components in binders and adhesives.

Initially, Stora Enso was developing binder solutions that partially replaced fossil-based raw materials with lignin. As the continuation of that work, we wanted to find a solution that would be completely bio-based, Lotti explains.

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