Adhesives hold labels to bottles, tiles to walls, and plasters to the skin: They play a vital role in everyday life, and it’s thanks to them that innovations like smart phones and self-driving cars are at all possible. About 14 million metric tons of industrial adhesives are used worldwide every year and demand is increasing: A market research institute forecasts that sales of adhesives will have risen 3.6 percent by 2024. Evonik is among the largest suppliers of raw materials for the adhesives and sealants industry. In conjunction with the industry, the Essen-based specialty chemicals group is developing ever more intelligent adhesives.
Diapers, furniture, and wind turbines
There’s hardly any area of life where Evonik products do not provide the right bonding: individual layers of diapers, for example, are bonded with VESTOPLAST-based adhesives; the poly alpha olefin keeps the diapers firmly in one piece, even with the wearer’s most vigorous contortions. In homes, Evonik’s raw materials for adhesives are used in furniture, carpets, and parquet flooring. And they also have an important role to play in the energy transition because individual elements of wind turbines, solar cells, and photovoltaic systems are bonded. Here, products from Evonik ensure that the adhesive can stand up to wind and weather, and, in offshore installations, even salt water.
Nature as model
The technique of adhesion has been in use for thousands of years. The first adhesive in human history was obtained from birches: Neanderthals in the Stone Age used birch tar, obtained from the bark, to glue together stone and wood, thus producing weapons and tools. The Mesopotamians used asphalt for bonding in construction, the Sumerians glue from animal skins, and the Egyptians animal glues.
Nature has also often been the inspiration for our industrially produced adhesives. Wallpaper paste, for example, works on the same principle as the glues used by paper wasps in building their nests. The wasp scrapes off wood shavings, eats them, and mixes them with digestive fluids. It can now use this mass as an adhesive: When the water evaporates on drying, the cellulose fibers of the wood shavings become matted and the glue solidifies. Resin is another example of an adhesive material found in nature; the sticky sap of conifers, for example, was commonly used as a natural binder in oil paints.
Adhesives for greater resource efficiency
Resins are used today in many high-technology applications. Evonik produces specialty resins as well as their precursors and additives; these impart specific properties to the resins, making them particularly strong, impact resistant, and fatigue resistant. Specialty resins from Evonik such as NANOPOX® and ALBIDUR® are used to produce lightweight materials as well as high-performance adhesives. Cars, boats, and aircraft are built from fiber composite materials, which are light as well as tough—an important factor in environmental conservation. This is clearly illustrated in ships, the heavyweights of transportation. An 80-meter steel hull, for example, weighs 300 metric tons and one of fiber-composite materials only one fifth as much. And every kilogram saved means reduced consumption of resources and energy as well as savings in emissions.
Pioneer for the word of the future
Our digital, networked world would also be inconceivable without Evonik products. They allow production of electronics in miniature format—and therefore of smart phones, digital cameras, and even self-driving cars with their many assistance systems. Borrowed from nature, specialty resins are paving the way for tomorrow’s world.