Kansas State University researchers have patented what’s believed to be a first-of-its-kind plant-based resin for adhesives and coatings. The biodegradable resin, made from soybean and other plant oils, is being marketed for use in re-adherable painters' tape, labels, food packaging, and other applications.

KSU researchers Donghai Wang and Susan Sun.KSU researchers Donghai Wang and Susan Sun.Researchers say the resin outperforms previous bio-based adhesives because it sticks to a surface much longer, has a longer shelf life, is more water-resistant, and is more economical. Because the substance is plant-based, it’s biodegradable and renewable, they say.

“Our resin is unique because it’s made from soybean, corn and other plant oils,” says Susan Sun, KSU professor of grain science and industry and lead researcher on the project, along with Donghai Wang, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering. "Currently available resins are made from petroleum-based products, which are less sustainable, and from plant fatty acids, which cost more to process."

One particularly notable possible application for the resin, researchers say, is painters’ tape.

"Painters generally finish projects with mounds of used tape made of low-quality paper that does not recycle," Sun said. "If they could use biodegradable tape, like ours, it would greatly reduce the amount of waste."

Other applications include coatings for wooden surfaces, slick magazine pages and packaging for snacks and other food items that require shiny and protective surfaces that are either flexible or rigid.

Funding for the research was provided in part by the Kansas Soybean Commission, the United Soybean Board, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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