Tree bark may be used in polyurethanes

News has just come my way that Huntsman Polyurethanes is to join the Bark Biorefinery Consortium Project, a four-year Canadian joint venture between academia and industry that is exploring how best to extract value from tree bark, a forest residue left over by the lumber industry.

The collaborative research program has a total budget of Can$5.25m and is being funded by the province of Ontario together with participating institutions and industry partners. As part of consortium activities, representatives from Huntsman’s CoreScience unit in the US will work closely with scientists from the University of Toronto, who are leading the project.

Leveraging combined academic and commercial know-how, the Huntsman team will focus on one core element of the initiative: converting bark into value added intermediates for polyurethane to achieve improved properties and more renewable content. Previous research in this area has shown that incorporating bark products into other polymers can result in improved thermal stability and fire resistance, as well as improved adhesive properties. 

Niek van Wiechen, Global CoreScience Director at Huntsman Polyurethanes, said: “When the University of Toronto invited Huntsman to join the Bark Biorefinery Consortium, we leapt at the chance. The program has many parallels with our own corporate research and development (R&D) strategy. Huntsman is committed to developing renewable technologies that increase the natural content in our products, provide cost effective solutions for our customers, and offer significant sustainability benefits. This is a great opportunity to turn forest residue into valuable commercial products.”

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