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Open Access Research article

Development of a green binder system for paper products

Ashley R Flory12, Deborah Vicuna Requesens1, Shivakumar P Devaiah1, Keat Thomas Teoh13, Shawn D Mansfield4 and Elizabeth E Hood13*

Author affiliations

1 Arkansas Biosciences Institute, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR, 72467, USA

2 Department of Biology, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR, 72467, USA

3 College of Agriculture and Technology, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR, 72467, USA

4 Department of Wood Science, University of British Columbia, 4030-2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Biotechnology 2013, 13:28  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-13-28

Published: 26 March 2013

Abstract

Background

It is important for industries to find green chemistries for manufacturing their products that have utility, are cost-effective and that protect the environment. The paper industry is no exception. Renewable resources derived from plant components could be an excellent substitute for the chemicals that are currently used as paper binders. Air laid pressed paper products that are typically used in wet wipes must be bound together so they can resist mechanical tearing during storage and use. The binders must be strong but cost-effective. Although chemical binders are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, the public is demanding products with lower carbon footprints and that are derived from renewable sources.

Results

In this project, carbohydrates, proteins and phenolic compounds were applied to air laid, pressed paper products in order to identify potential renewable green binders that are as strong as the current commercial binders, while being organic and renewable. Each potential green binder was applied to several filter paper strips and tested for strength in the direction perpendicular to the cellulose fibril orientation. Out of the twenty binders surveyed, soy protein, gelatin, zein protein, pectin and Salix lignin provided comparable strength results to a currently employed chemical binder.

Conclusions

These organic and renewable binders can be purchased in large quantities at low cost, require minimal reaction time and do not form viscous solutions that would clog sprayers, characteristics that make them attractive to the non-woven paper industry. As with any new process, a large-scale trial must be conducted along with an economic analysis of the procedure. However, because multiple examples of “green” binders were found that showed strong cross-linking activity, a candidate for commercial application will likely be found.

Keywords:
Paper industry; Binders; Enzymes; Plant-produced proteins; Green chemistry