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Sunday, August 23, 1998 Published at 19:29 GMT 20:29 UK


Soya protein solves sticky problem

Scientists have spent years searching for a new adhesive

A non-toxic soya bean glue could be the adhesive of the future for furniture manufacturers.

Scientists have spent years searching for an effective glue that is not petroleum-based or made using the toxic chemical formaldehyde.

The new glue has been developed by scientists modifying the molecular structure of soya protein.

[ image: The soya protein is modified]
The soya protein is modified
Unlike other adhesives it produces no toxic fumes and it is strong and water-resistant compared to formaldehyde, which although used to increase water resistance, can be a health hazard.

The soya adhesive was produced by Xiuzhi Sun, a researcher at Kansas State University in Manhattan.

Water resistant

She found a way to "unfold" the soya molecules so water resistant amino acids come to the surface.

That promotes water resistance, and adhesive strength.

Results of tests of the glue's performance were presented to scientists at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, Massachusetts on Sunday.

A university spokesman said: "It remained strong after eight weeks in a chamber at 90% relative humidity, indicating its suitability for interior uses such as for the furniture industry, and for package labelling."

The next step in the research will be to characterise the viscosity, stability and underlying mechanisms of the glue.

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