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Soybeans could beef up plywood glues

Soon, plywood might go vegetarian.

The ubiquitous building material owes its strength to multiple wood sheets with their grains at right angles and tenacious glue between the layers. Now, researchers are proposing that plywood be manufactured using glue made with soy flour rather than with powdered cattle-blood protein, as is done conventionally. The vegetable-containing adhesive might reduce the wood's cost and alleviate health concerns among mill workers.

A leading incentive for finding such an alternative is workers' fears of breathing in cattle-blood dust and disease agents it might carry, says Mila P. Hojilla-Evangelista of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Peoria, Ill. Furthermore, there are few suppliers of the blood protein, which helps make the glue sticky and durable.

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