Soybeans are as much a part of the American diet as corn on the cob, just not as obvious. From margarine and cooking oils to salad dressings and nondairy coffee creamers, soybeans have made a place for themselves. Now, a new soy-based adhesive is shaking up the glue industry. This adhesive, which can join two pieces of wet wood in a strong, dependable bond, is opening new markets for farmers and earning more money for lumber mills.
The research that led to the new adhesive was supported by the industry-funded United Soybean Board. The wet wood adhesive allows mills to use 1 percent more of every tree. That doesn’t sound like much on a tree-for-tree basis, but it adds up to sizable revenues for lumber mills.
Home builders will also realize savings as more stable joints can save hundreds of dollars in materials and labor. And environmentalists welcome an alternative to petroleum-based adhesives.
Currently, the new adhesive consumes 23 million bushels of soybeans annually. However, as it becomes more widely used in other wood products such as plywood, the soybean board expects consumption to increase to 150 million bushels by 2005.