A new project has received €4.5m ($4.8m) in funding from the Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking to study the natural components of softwood bark to develop other adhesives and coatings for packaging paper and others.

Named SuperBark, the four-year project was launched on 1 September 2023 and will run until August 2027.

The research and innovation project is coordinated by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, but it has an interdisciplinary consortium of 12 partners from eight countries.

SuperBark aims to develop safe and sustainable adhesives and coatings from pine and spruce bark.

The project involves developing, testing, and validating adhesives and coatings with more than 95% biobased content.

The team will use a new alkaline fractionation technology to extract polyphenols from tree bark, as well as cellulose nanofibrils converted from cellulose-rich bark residues.

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The solution will replace fossil-based, hazardous chemicals and polymer solutions currently used in packaging sectors and consumer products.

VTT senior scientist and project manager Marc Borrega said: “SuperBark aims to eliminate consumer exposure to formaldehyde-based resins and per- and polyfluorinated substances used in coatings.

“The research will be guided by ‘safe and sustainable by design’ principles and will apply digital technologies to accelerate the development of adhesives and coatings into products with a long-lasting impact on human health and the environment.”

SuperBark partners will assess the safety, sustainability, technical, as well as economic performance of the adhesives and coatings.

The team will then commence research and development actions towards the commercialisation of the developed processes and products.