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Adhesives Ingredients

FEICA 2017 Review: Key Trends & Innovations

Sreeparna Das – Sep 29, 2017

Highlights of FEICA 2017This year the adhesives & sealants industry gathered at a picturesque location - Sardinia, Italy for the FEICA 2017 Conference and Expo. The venue was the beautiful Forte Village Resort - where you could see a contrasting mix of people in swimsuits and business suits! Of course, once ‘the biz suits’ were inside the congress center, it was all about exhibitors, speakers and their insightful presentations.

Some of the key highlights for me at the event were:

  • Discussions around circular economy
  • Understanding the impact of Restriction on Diisocyanates - Plans ahead
  • Mega Trends impacting the Adhesives & Sealants Industry
  • Biological Adhesives
  • Bio-based Solutions - Reactive Lignin, Polyfarnesene Polymers…
  • Networking with industry experts and much more….

Let’s see the main takeaways from the event more in details.

Impact of Megatrends

I would like to start with this one because to drive innovation, one must see the bigger picture. One of the very interesting early sessions at the FEICA was by well-known behavioral economist from the UK - Roger Martin-Fagg. The theme of his talk was ‘Innovate or Die!’ and there were couple of very interesting points that he made.

  1. Going from invention to innovation requires vision, competence, finance…
  2. EU has a looming demographic problem - constrictive population pyramid i.e. lower percentage of younger people
  3. One of the impacts of Brexit - Shortage of labor in construction industry
  4. Wages in EU have become stagnant or not increasing at the desired level
  5. Level of innovation has flattened

Completing this picture was the presentation by Stefan Rittman - Managing Director at Arlanxeo Deutschland GmbH.

Arlanxeo Sponsoring FEICA
One of the Key Sponsors at the FEICA was Arlanxeo

He focused on 4 main megatrends & their impact.

Megatrend Impact on Adhesives & Sealants
Future Mobility
(electric cars, autonomous cars, car sharing concept…)
  • Adhesive applications around battery systems: connection of battery cells to units, units to cooling elements, fixing of sensors…
  • New concept designs will result in new adhesive applications in the future
(circular economy…)
  • Solvent-free adhesives - even outside industrialized countries
  • Bio-based & bio-degradable adhesives - Packaging industry will be the ‘early mover’ due to growing regulations
Industry 4.0 
(incl. 3D printing)
  • Robot-optimized adhesives
  • 3D printing is a threat for adhesives as parts won’t need to be glued together anymore
  • Safety of high rises and skyscrapers could trigger an additional demand for fire-retardant adhesives

Megatrends and their Impact on Adhesives & Sealants Industry Discussed at FEICA

If we talk of the demand of adhesives & sealants specifically, it has been seen to rise over the past decade. Some of the main growth drivers were highlighted in the presentation given by Dr. Jürgen Wegner from Chemquest. Here are some of my top picks:

  • Better understanding of surface science
  • Influx of new functionalities beyond adhesion & sealing
  • Wider acceptance of chemical adhesive bonding versus thermal & mechanical bonds
  • Rapid advances in curing technologies
  • Better engineered bonds with advanced non-destructive testing
  • Growing hybrid bonding technology

Driving Innovation

Next up was Charles Dhanraj - Professor of Strategy & Global Leadership, IMD Lausanne. His focus was on ‘Championing Innovation’ and he spoke about associated 8 ‘S’ words.

  1. Strength
  2. Stability
  3. Safety
  4. Simplicity
  5. Smart
  6. Sleek
  7. Speed
  8. Sustainable

Related to these 8 words, he shared several key points, some of which include:

  • New innovations are coming from outside chemistry (I’ll talk about this more in the later part of the review - Biological Adhesives)
  • Returnable smarter packaging solutions are needed
  • Design thinking needs to come into CAS industry - both functionality & aesthetics matter
  • Interesting examples of innovations quoted by him:

    • Self-healing bendable concrete:

    • 57 story building in China constructed in 19 days:

    • Solar Roadways:

Also at FEICA, was a regular speaker - SpecialChem’s Aldric Tourres, Vice President - Sales & Marketing. This year, he talked about the importance & benefits of Digitization. He shared how it can accelerate R&D and drive innovation within the industry.

  • Specialized online networks (such as SpecialChem’s) are being capitalized on to help companies to explore unfamiliar markets and validate new products.
  • Also, digitization can help companies identify the right co-development partners.
  • Overall benefit lies in increasing the certainty of ‘kill/continue’ R&D decisions.
SpecialChem Put the Spotlight on Digitization at FEICA 2017
SpecialChem Put the Spotlight on Digitization at FEICA 2017

Now, let’s move on to the technical side of things. The breakout sessions at FEICA gave an opportunity to attend innovation-oriented talks by key speakers. A good opportunity to know the latest issues, potential solutions, plans of action...

Safe Use of PU - Restriction on Diisocyanates

On Day 1, specific working groups comprising of FEICA members discussed at length on couple of topics. One of them was related to the upcoming REACH restriction on diisocyanate, a known respiratory sensitizer. (An interview with a member of the related working group will be published soon on SpecialChem)

Currently, an exception to this restriction exists for PU systems with monomer (diisocyanate) content less than 0.1%. Also, sealants might be outside the purview of restriction as of now.

REACH Restriction on Diisocyanate
REACH Restriction on Diisocyanate

On Day 2, there were some presentations made on this topic and here are some of the main highlights.

Formulations with Reduced or Eliminated Monomeric Content

Dr. Christoph Thiebes from Covestro gave a technical presentation discussing the possible solutions and way ahead. The approach he presented involved lowering the monomeric content to less than 0.1% and / or eliminating it. Removal of the monomers means high efforts but this has been proved feasible.

Lowering Monomeric Content in Adhesive Formulations
Lowering Monomeric Content in Adhesive Formulations

Also, he mentioned that ‘No’ monomer systems are also possible with different performance.

Polyurethane Dispersions Combine high molecular weight & low viscosity
Thermolatent PU 1K systems with 2K properties by heat activation
Carbodiimide Crosslinking High pot-life and high reactivity
Silane-terminated PU Hybrid - best of both worlds

He also talked about their new bio-based building block - pentamethylene diisocyanate (launched at ECS 2015). He expects bio-based MDI to be a commercial reality by 2025.

Isocyanate-free Approach - NIPU

The solution Dr. Frédéric Simons from Bostik talked about was that of Non-isocyanate Polyurethanes (NIPU).

Isocyanate-free Approach in Adhesives & Sealants
Isocyanate-free Approach in Adhesives & Sealants

Sustainable routes to NIPU involve the use of renewable natural oil polyols (NOPs). The main advantage is that renewable triglycerides (main feedstock) are available in nature in abundance. But the disadvantage is that the molar mass, dictated by natural oil, cannot be fine-tuned. This restricts the range of properties and thus, applications.

Using Arkema’s expertise, Bostik used the metathesis reaction. Their strategy involves synthesizing a,ω-di(glycerol carbonate) telechelic polyesters as the 1st step. Further on reaction with a di or triamine in a polyaddition reaction, they provide polyhydroxyurethanes (PHU). As per tests conducted by Bostik, the properties are comparable or superior to standard PU 2-components adhesives.

The concept is lab ready and opens doors to new materials in the CAS industry. A scale-up with Arkema is planned and they will first start testing with specific customers.

And finally, on the Day 3 of the conference, the most interesting breakout session was dedicated to renewable solutions.

Bio-based Solutions - Reactive Lignin & Polyfarnesene

Interest of the adhesives & sealants industry in lignin is not new. It offers to be a safer, greener, cheaper alternative to phenol. Supply from the pulp & paper industry is expected to increase. Three new extraction plants have started operation since 2013 and more are being built.

Why no lignin resins in the market?

This is because technical barriers exist:

  • The chemical structure of lignin is more complex vs phenol
  • Differs from plant to plant (softwood, hardwood…)
  • Reactivity is very low

A team from VTT Tech Research Center has now developed reactive lignin (termed ‘CatLignin’) from kraft black liquor using an additional thermal treatment step. It is compatible with existing manufacturing technologies.

  • It demethylates & demethoxylates lignin and thereby adding more reactive sites (up to 5 times).
  • Additionally, thanks to the control unit associated to the thermal treatment step, adjusting reactivity is possible.
  • CatLignin enables high phenol replacement levels in resins.
  • Higher reactivity and faster curing compared to alkali lignins were detected during LPF resin synthesis.
  • 100% bio-based solutions and the CO2 footprint is only ~20% that of phenol.

Bio-based Solutions for Adhesives & Sealants
Bio-based Solution for Adhesives & Sealants Presented by VTT

At the end of his presentation, Juha called for collaborators from the industry for next steps towards commercialization.

Farnesene-based Polymers

Another renewable solution comes from sugar feedstocks. Production of trans-β-farnesene via a bio-based route has recently been commercialized. Through anionic polymerization, it can produce highly branched polymers.

Olivier Defrain from Total Cray Valley presented the features of polyfarnesene (PF) diols and shared comparison vs polybutadiene diols.

Value Proposition of Polybutadiene Diols
Value Proposition of Polybutadiene Diols

Ideally suited for PU and UV curable formulations, PF diols offer additional benefits vs polybutadiene diols:

  • Lower Tg: Tg is minimally affected by ‘vinyl’ content of backbone. Displays improved low-temperature performance.
  • Low Viscosity: Lack of entanglements is observed even at relatively higher molar masses.
  • Safer: Low vapor pressure, high boiling point liquid monomer. No labelling.

Commercial grades exist:

  1. Krasol® F3000
  2. Wingtack® Extra F30

And finally, over to biology and good old nature for some inspiration for innovation...

The world of Bioadhesion

If I ask you to think about an example of biomimicry in the context of adhesives, I’m 100% sure; the animal that would come to your mind would be a gecko! But, thanks to the work being done by COST CA 15216 - The European Network of Bioadhesion - you will discover that there are many more!!

This group of scientists, engineers, physicians, SMEs, applied research organizations… is working to understand the basic principles governing biological adhesion by gathering knowledge about these materials’:

  • Composition
  • Structural design and
  • Interactions with surfaces

Scientific Representative, Janek von Byern, in his presentation at FEICA gave us quite a list, which he mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg. These included:

  • Bacteria
  • Algae
  • Kelp
  • Cephalopod (one of the oldest animals)
  • Mussel
  • Barnacle
  • Sea cucumber
  • Sea star
  • Snails
  • Sandcastle worm
  • Jellyfish
  • Ticks
  • Salamander
  • Frog… and 100s more…

Biological Adhesives: Similarities & Differences

Similarities & Differences between Bio & Non-bio Adhesives
Similarities & Differences between Bio & Non-bio Adhesives

Janek spoke of 3 very interesting examples in particular. Let’s take a look!

Organism  Example Type Bond Strength Advantages Disadvantages
Substrate bonding < 2.28 MPa
  • Glue composition known - L-DOPA 
  • Stable & firm bonding
  • L-DOPA combinable with chemicals
  • Bonding ( > min.) on each surface type
  • Application - wound healing & cosmetics in pipeline
  • Bonding only on wet surfaces
  • Permanent bont
  • High production costs 
  • S. Korean patent on L-DOPA production
Glow Worm

Glow Worm

Prey capture < 0.005 MPa
  • Glue stable over weeks, bonding at contact only 
  • Bonding within seconds 
  • Bonding on any dry surface 
  • Few components only (urea…) 
  • Urea
  • Bonding with initial high amount of water (> 80% rH) 
  • Low bond strength 
  • Glue not characterized yet - 5-6 years more needed
Defense > 1.7 MPa
  • Bonding within milliseconds 
  • Bonding on most surfaces 
  • High bond strength 
  • Multi-component system 
  • Automatic water loss after curing
  • Protein-based glue 
  • Artificial production unclear
  • No bonding on hydrophobic surfaces 
  • Glue not characterized - 3-4 years more needed

Advantages & Disadvantages of Biological Adhesives

Glow Worm Biological Adhesive

And the best part is? They are all bio-degradable and non-toxic (except of course when nature intends them to be poisonous!)

With several high quality break-out sessions & presentations running in parallel throughout FEICA, making a choice on the ones to attend wasn’t easy! But, irrespective of the sessions one chose to attend, the quality of presentations, speakers and moderators was consistently high. In addition, the whole event (including the conference dinner & cocktail by Dow) was very conducive for networking and holding high quality discussions. And the beauty of Sardinia in the backdrop was like an added cherry on top!

See you next year in Riga!

5 Comments on "FEICA 2017 Review: Key Trends & Innovations"
Babu M Dec 22, 2017
Informative and Valuable article, thanks for sharing.
Ines B Nov 30, 2017
thank you for this article
Sreeparna D Oct 26, 2017
Thank you Vladimyr and Marga for your positive comments. Indeed, very exciting to see the industry evolving!
vladimyr W Oct 3, 2017
Great summary, could not attend as was in Waikiki.
Marga A Sep 29, 2017
Thank you for such a thorough review. I have truly enjoyed reading it. Exciting to see how the industry evolves to address the needs of the changing economy.

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