New adhesive: eco-benign, inexpensive


Kaichang Li

An incidental discovery in a wood products lab at Oregon State University has produced a new pressure-sensitive adhesive that may revolutionize the tape industry – an environmentally benign product that works very well and costs much less than existing adhesives based on petrochemicals…

The discovery was made essentially by accident while OSU scientists were looking for something that could be used in a wood-based composite product – an application that would require the adhesive to be solid at room temperature and melt at elevated temperatures.

For that, the new product was a failure…

“Then I noticed that at one stage of our process this compound was a very sticky resin,” Li said. “I told my postdoctoral research associate, Anlong Li, to stop right there. We put some on a piece of paper, pressed it together and it stuck very well, a strong adhesive.”

Shifting gears, the two researchers then worked to develop a pressure-sensitive adhesive, the type used on many forms of tape, labels, and notepads.

It’s really pretty amazing,” Li said. “This adhesive is incredibly simple to make, doesn’t use any organic solvents or toxic chemicals, and is based on vegetable oils that would be completely renewable, not petrochemicals. It should be about half the cost of existing technologies and appears to work just as well…”

The new approach used at OSU is based on a different type of polymerization process and produces pressure-sensitive adhesives that could be adapted for a wide range of uses, perform well, cost much less, and would be made from renewable crops such as soy beans, corn or canola oil, instead of petroleum-based polymers.

The technology should be fairly easy to scale-up and commercialize, Li said.

“We believe this innovation has the potential to replace current pressure-sensitive adhesives with a more environmentally friendly formulation at a competitive price.”

The best scientists, the best science requires open, flexible minds – ready to respond to the unexpected with unintended discoveries.

Kaichang Li already has this sort of reputation. We should be glad he’s teaching future scientists to think and act to his standard.

Saving the digital genome

In a secret bunker deep in the Swiss Alps, European researchers have deposited a “digital genome” that will provide the blueprint for future generations to read data stored using defunct technology…

The sealed box containing the key to unpick defunct digital formats will be locked away for the next quarter of a century behind a 3-1/2 tonne door strong enough to resist nuclear attack at the data storage facility, known as the Swiss Fort Knox.

“Einstein’s notebooks you can take down off the shelf and read them today. Roll forward 50 years and most of Stephen Hawking’s notes will likely only be stored digitally and we might not be able to access them all,” said the British Library’s Adam Farquhar, one of two computer scientists and archivists entrusted with transferring the capsule.

The capsule is the culmination of the four-year “Planets” project, which draws on the expertise of 16 European libraries, archives and research institutions, to preserve the world’s digital assets as hardware and software is superseded at a blistering pace…

Studies suggest common data storage formats like CDs and DVDs only last 20 years, while digital file formats have a life expectancy of just five to seven years. Hardware even less…

“If we can nail the next 100 years, we figure we will be able to nail the next 100 years as well,” Farquhar said.

I have one computer in my closet that’s 27 years old. It uses a cassette tape drive for storage. Har!

There are kids around who don’t even know about cassette tapes used for music – much less data.

Why is everything moving under this man’s shirt?

Customs officials in Norway have arrested a man who they say tried to smuggle 24 reptiles into the country by taping them to his body.

Fourteen royal pythons rolled up in socks were found taped to the man’s torso and 10 geckos held in small boxes were taped to his legs.

Officials were alerted to the illegal haul after a tarantula was found in the man’s luggage.

The 22-year-old was travelling to Kristiansand on a ferry from Denmark.

The snakes, which are not endangered, are the smallest of the python family and are not venomous.

Eeoough!