Interfacial catalysis and lignin nanoparticles for strong fire- and water-resistant composite adhesives†
Wood is increasingly replacing concrete to reduce CO2 emissions in buildings, but fossil-based adhesives are still being used in wood panels. Epoxidized lignin adhesives could be a potential replacement, but their preparation has so far required low-molecular weight lignin and long reaction times. Here we show a new efficient method to produce epoxidized kraft lignin (EKL) from regular kraft lignin by using interfacial catalysis. We demonstrate that EKL combined with biocolloids in the form of lignin nanoparticles (LNPs) produces a strong adhesive comparable to commercially available ones when cross-linked at 130–160 °C for only 3–5 minutes. The adhesive was free of phenol or formaldehyde, had a lignin content of over 80% and still showed impressive wet strength and incredible thermal stability. The process was shown to be scalable and environmentally more sustainable than resins from fossil-based feedstock or currently available ones from renewable resources.