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Comment Business & Economics

Conagen announces bio-based debondable hot-melt adhesives

By Scott Jenkins |

Biotechnology company Conagen (Bedford, Mass.; www.conagen.com) recently announced the development of highly sought-after debondable hot melt adhesives made by high-performance materials from sustainable and natural bio-molecules. The announcement offers a new alternative for manufacturers seeking debondable structural adhesive solutions to avoid waste and save costs in manufacturing.

“Conagen has solved the challenges manufacturers face in seeking strong structural adhesives that are long-lasting, perform strongly, and have the valuable option for breaking the adhesion before final finishing operations to deliver perfect products,” said J. McNamara, Conagen vice-president of chemical applications.

The advantages of high-strength debondable adhesives benefit multiple industries. For example, smartphones and electronics can be repaired effortlessly, and deconstructed at the end of their life without damaging components for recovery and recycling of valuable parts currently in land refills.

“Conagen’s patented debondable hot melt adhesive are incredibly stronger than what is used in the market now and can outperform petroleum-based products with a sustainable advantage that saves time, cost and reduces waste,” said McNamara.

McNamara further states, “The unexpected boost in performance comes from Conagen’s fermented ingredients already at full industrial scale.” Conagen says it is open to discussing commercialization opportunities with manufacturers who are interested in a new era of performance materials.”

Adhesives offer many advantages in joining materials, including the ease of use compared to welding, sealing, distributing stress, and environmental resistance. Currently, manufacturers glue two pieces together and wait for a day to cure the bond. If there are imperfections in the bond, the glued products are thrown away because they cannot be unglued, resulting in time and material waste.

Today, most reactive hot melt adhesives rely on post-curing chemistry to develop adhesive strength. A downside to this approach is the curing process is irreversible and, as such, hinders or prevents de-bonding almost entirely.

While the ingredients of Conagen’s hot melt adhesives are commonly found in nature, to develop sustainable debondable adhesives, Conagen leverages its precision fermentation technology to engineer a synthetic pathway independent of plant source materials, creating more efficient and sustainable bio-based ingredients than what can be achieved with chemically-synthesized versions.

Conagen’s inspiration is self-healing materials, using sustainable and natural ingredients, turning them into high-strength debondable hot melt adhesives. “The process is as simple as cutting the plastic that reheals itself in less time than the conventional way,” said McNamara.

The Conagen adhesive is unique as it is a cross-linked material designed with reversibility in mind that exhibits the strength of traditionally cured adhesives with the added benefit of transitioning to a flowable material after heating.

Conagen’s debondable adhesive formulation is ideal for cars, boats, planes, transportation, consumer electronics and appliances, and military and industrial applications. And Adhesives in electric vehicles (EVs) are more widespread than conventional automobiles.

The adhesives market stood at $729.11 billion in 2019 and is projected to exhibit a CAGR of 5.3% between 2020 and 2027.

Conagen’s hallmark in the specialty and industrial space is discovering applications from the platform of natural bio-compounds and bio-materials for a new era of materials that are both high-performing and sustainable.

“Our adhesive formulation continues to show promise for bonding a wide array of materials, such as metal, plastic, and glass,” said McNamara. “We’re making it easier for companies to adopt a more natural position in manufacturing while staying true to the performance of their products.

Conagen is a product-focused, synthetic biology R&D company with large-scale manufacturing service capabilities. Conagen scientists and engineers use the latest synthetic biology tools to develop high-quality, sustainable, nature-based products by precision fermentation and enzymatic bioconversion. The company focuses on the bioproduction of high-value ingredients for food, nutrition, flavors and fragrances, pharmaceutical, and renewable materials industries. 

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