GUM CHEMICAL SOLUTIONS, S.A. is a Portuguese company established in 2016, inserted in the industrial chemical sector.
Located in Cantanhede, Gum Chemical Solutions was born from a partnership between investors of Brazilian and Mexican origin, together with Portuguese investors, who invested in this renewable sector of pine resins.
The company’s objective translates into the research, development, and production of pine resin derivatives (intermediate products with high added value and with dynamic international demand) aimed at a wide range of end applications.
Therefore, Gum Chemical Solutions developed the BioHotMelt project, with the following motivations:
> An innovative vision for the renewable and organic base coatings market for packaging.
> Commitment to costs versus performance, as well as regulatory compliance in the sector.
> Bet on natural rosin resins to develop disruptive takifiers for the food and hygiene industry.
> Recognition that the market needs raw materials with short life cycles.
> Concern for users: what cost are they willing to pay, to use adhesives that incorporate more and more raw materials of renewable and biological basis?
Hotmelt adhesives (HMA) are materials with a wide range of industrial applications including traditional and flexible packaging, adhesive tapes, labels, bottle labeling, book binding, disposable hygiene products, among others.
Worldwide, an exponential increase in the consumption of these adhesives is expected, due to the increased consumption of developing countries such as China, India, and some African countries.
Thus, millions of people will have access, for example, to basic hygiene products, which will significantly increase the need for these HMA.
HMA are thermoplastic materials that do not contain solvents in their formulation. These materials are solid at room temperature and become low viscosity fluids when heated to the temperature to which they are applied.
The components of HMA are, at present, mostly of fossil origin, having as components:
1) a high molecular weight polymer that provides strength to the adhesive.
2) a low molecular weight tackifier that is used to increase the adhesion of the surface to the adhesive.
3) a low molecular weight wax that decreases the viscosity of the adhesive when it melts.
Currently, there are several thermoplastic polymers on the market, such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polyamides (PA).
These are plastics commonly used in product packaging, production of beverage bottles, and films, among others.
Polyethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), due to its low melting point, low cost and good adhesion to a wide variety of materials, was the most widely used copolymer in industrial hotmelt adhesive formulations.
In the last decades, the development of methods for the synthesis of polyethylene with metallocenes (mPE), which show greater adhesion strength, easier processing and have no problems associated with taste or smell, led the industry to prefer the use of this type of polymers in commercial formulations of hotmelt adhesives.
These adhesives are formulated with hydrocarbon resins of fossil origin.
As an example of these hydrocarbon resins, we have the hydrocarbon resins C5, C9, copolymer resins C5 / C9 and hydrogenated resins, all of these resins widely exploited as a tackifier in the industrial environment, being used in the production of paints and adhesives.
This solution, although technically quite satisfactory, is extremely burdensome from an environmental point of view.
The recycling of polymers, as an environmental solution, still does not provide an effective answer to this problem.
The use of raw materials of vegetable/biological origin and the development of biocompostable / biodegradable materials, remains the most effective option for solving environmental problems caused by residues that do not have biodegradability characteristics.
Currently, rosin-based or terpene resins, forest-based renewable resources that are very abundant in the Iberian peninsula and in other regions of the world such as Asia and South America, arouse great interest as a raw material for the development of polymers and biodegradable resins.
However, mPE polymers (nonpolar nature) are incompatible with resins, such as rosin and its trivial derivatives, and compatible with aliphatic hydrocarbon resins of fossil origin. This trend seriously puts pressure on the adhesive market, which has fossil-based resins in its formulations.
Currently, there are no industrially and environmentally compatible solutions in the current literature on hotmelt adhesives, which contain mPE polymers in their formulation, compatible with natural/forest based resins.
Therefore, Gum Chemical Solutions is committed to providing an alternative, through its research and development department, with a view to the progressive replacement of raw materials of fossil origin (such as fossil resins, C5 and C9) that have processes extremely long recycling times.
Gum Chemical Solutions is currently doing fundamental research to develop rosin-based resins that are compatible with mPE.
As such, the company intends to make alternatives available to the market to produce adhesives, obtained from renewable, compostable/biodegradable plant sources, which are independent of competitive plant products for human and animal food.
Naturally based resins are a product of important economic and social value to the world.
The development of more environmentally friendly materials, from natural resources, through processes/sustainable techniques, it is extremely important due to the continuous depletion of non-renewable resources, coupled with serious environmental problems caused by polymers and resins of fossil fuels and non-compostable/biodegradable.
The issue of increasing the use of plant-based products is particularly relevant in the national and international context.
The development of new materials, with more ecological characteristics, using renewable natural resources is of enormous importance.
The rosin and terpenes, extracted from pine resin, are of great interest as raw materials of natural and vegetal origin for the preparation of biodegradable materials.
The Gum Chemical Solutions project aims to develop new rosin-based resins compatible with mPE, for hotmelt adhesive formulations.
This project aims, on the one hand, to avoid losing a growing global packaging market that is strategic in the world and, on the other hand, to significantly reduce the CO2 footprint of these hotmelt adhesives, given that rosin is a basic natural material.
The project has numerous advantages as:
> It will gradually allow the incorporation of a natural product of plant origin that is strategic in the processes of industrial formulation.
> The percentage of compounds of natural and renewable origin in the formulation of hotmelt adhesives will significantly increase.
> It will allow to adjust the mechanical and thermal properties of hotmelt adhesives through the synthesis of rosin derivatives specifically designed for the target applications.
For the first time, it will be possible to present a hotmelt adhesive resin to the market, which has all the associated advantages (and widely recognized with the use of mPE) and with a high percentage of rosin incorporation (minimum 40% of adhesion promoters used in the formulation) and other natural products in its formulation.
Therefore, the proposed strategy will lead to the development of new formulations with performances, similar to hotmelt adhesives, commercially available on the market, with the great advantage of having a much lower CO2 footprint, as they include resins of natural origin in their formulation, instead of hydrocarbon resins.
This innovative project aims to enhance natural rosin resins as raw materials, allowing Gum Chemical Solutions to remain in the competitive hotmelt adhesives market, producing adhesives with excellent performances and with more ecological characteristics than the adhesives of this class commercially available , without competition with food and feed products.
The consortium promoting this project is made up of GUM CHEMICAL SOLUTIONS, S.A. and UNIVERSIDADE DE COIMBRA, bringing together the technical and scientific skills for its development.
This project will have an important effect on the Company’s skills and capabilities, reinforcing the research and development of new products and manufacturing processes aimed at specific solutions.