As conversations around formaldehyde in the market continue, Acrodur® stands out as a water-based, low-emission alternative to resins like phenol, melamine, and urea.

An evolving conversation

As one of the most studied chemicals in use today, conversations around formaldehyde are constantly evolving.

While conclusions have been drawn to define safe thresholds for formaldehyde exposure and companies are complying with regulations, change is afoot.

Those that sell products into the interior market have moved away from the chemical because of concerns with asthma, airway irritation, and cancer. In other parts of the industry, where urea formaldehyde goes into applications for roofing and exterior sheathing, it's a pressing concern for manufacturers.

With organizations like the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implementing and enforcing statutes and conducting ongoing research into the impact of formaldehyde, it's becoming increasingly prudent for the industry to seek alternative systems.

"For years, people weren't too concerned with formaldehyde," says John Norton, Technical Specialist at BASF. "These resins are effective and typically cheap, so there wasn't a drive. Now, you have concerns. Several years ago, formaldehyde was classified from a suspected carcinogen to a known carcinogen. That's when things started changing."

An excellent profile of properties

To meet this need for alternatives, BASF developed Acrodur, a portfolio of water-based, formaldehyde-free binders that have excellent performance in multiple nonwovens applications.

There are two types of Acrodur. The first, a solution polymer, is typically used in industrial applications and also filtration. The second, a dispersion formation, is modified from the solution polymer to alter performance.

Regardless of the solution you choose, as a 1k-system, it's ready to use out of the box and boasts an excellent profile of properties. These include outstanding binder properties suitable for natural, glass, and synthetic fibers and particle bonding.

"One thing that's unique about the product is that, if you're using fibers that have hydroxyl groups, Acrodur will react with it," says Norton. "That's when you get great bonds."

Several years ago, formaldehyde was classified from a suspected carcinogen to a known carcinogen. That's when things started changing.

John Norton

Technical Specialist at BASF

It also boasts high thermomechanical stability.

"Most acrylic polymers will hit a glass transition temperature and then the product will soften," Norton continues. "Highly cross-linked polymers like this don't experience that transition, even though you can get some extremely high temperatures. It'll stay very stiff and strong."

Acrodur is also incredibly flexible in different processing systems with properties that enable the production of high-quality products in the automotive, furniture, and construction industries.

A better alternative

Another key benefit comes with its impact on the environment. Being water-based, the byproduct of the crosslinking reaction is water, eliminating the risk of harmful off-gassing.

Norton also mentions an energy-efficient benefit in the manufacturing process. "In many cases where formaldehyde resins are used, plants and manufacturing sites use oxidizers after the drying and curing so they're not emitting significant amounts of formaldehyde," he says. "If you switch to an Acrodur system, you can turn the oxidizer off, which saves a lot of energy."

Part of a bigger picture

While regulations around formaldehyde are still developing, and the conversation is ongoing, the future relies on alternative systems like Acrodur.

BASF's work with the product doesn't just put an alternative on the shelf but highlights its ongoing commitment to reach its sustainability goals and objectives.

"BASF is walking the walk," Norton says. "We're getting there and bringing our technologies with us."

For more on Acrodur and its benefits, click here.

Recent Articles

Simon Says: What's in store for 2024
BASF and Azelis partner in assisting formulators in reducing lithium use in flowable mortar products for construction
2023 offered resiliency and hope for the printing and packaging industry