Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Foster Agblevor


Foster Agblevor


Ronald Sims


Yujie Sun


Phenol-formaldehyde adhesives are important adhesives known to have superior water resistance capacity and high mechanical strength when utilized in wood-based applications. Due to unsustainability and environmental issues associated with the use of fossil fuels, there is an urgent need to look for alternative raw materials, which are renewable in nature. Pinyon-juniper biomass has been found to be a suitable replacement for petroleum-based phenol because it is renewable, abundant, and readily available.

In this thesis, bio-oil produced from the pyrolysis of pinyon-juniper biomass using red mud alumina catalyst was used to produce wood adhesives. The characterization of pinyon-juniper bio-oil showed the presence of phenolics, aromatic hydrocarbons, aliphatic hydrocarbons, carboxylic acids, ethers, ketones, aldehydes, and aliphatic alcohols.

Resol synthesis parameters such as formaldehyde-to-phenol molar ratio (1.8 and 2), catalyst loading (0.25, 0.63, and 1.25 g of NaOH), reaction time (60 minutes), and reaction temperature (95°C), were investigated in the production of pinyon-juniper adhesives. Based on the results obtained, the extent of phenol substitution with pinyon-juniper bio-oil was dependent on the amount catalyst used during the synthesis process. The maximum phenol substitution of 80% was achieved using a catalyst loading of 1.25 g of NaOH while the minimum phenol substitution of 50% was obtained at a catalyst loading of 0.25 g of NaOH.

Dry shear strength (8.99 to 12.73 MPa) and wet shear strength of (5.16 to 7.36 MPa) for both pure phenol-formaldehyde resols and pinyon-juniper substituted resols were comparable and exceeded the minimum requirement of 0.66 MPa for plywood. Finally, the chemical structure of pure phenol-formaldehyde resols showed the presence of more phenolic OH groups compared to pinyon-juniper substituted resols. This observation was corroborated by the higher concentration of free phenol in pure phenol-formaldehyde adhesives compared to pinyon-juniper substituted resols.