Project TitleSafer Solvents for Contact-Adhesives
Track Code2016-022
Short Description

Environment-friendly solvent blends for contact adhesives significantly reduce the negative health effects while maintaining the performance comparable to current commercial products. 

Tagssafer contact adhesives, solvent, environmentally-friendly
Posted DateOct 12, 2016 11:29 AM


Vijayendra Kumar
Rajnish Kaushik


Contact adhesives formulations consist of polymers (rubber and resin), a solvent blend and some additives. Solvent blends can include toxic chemicals such as toluene and hexane, which are considered volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are designated as Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) chemicals by the EPA, and present potential health, safety and environmental concerns to both the user and the surrounding environment

Recent regulations seek to limit these solvents to maximum of 250 g/L of VOCs. The alternative water-based contact adhesives have significant performance issues such as excessive evaporation time, poor cold temperature stability, low bond strength and poor heat resistance. Methylene chloride based contact adhesives are also being used for low VOC markets, however, methylene chloride is also designated as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) chemical by the EPA. Hence, there is a need for safer and more environmentally friendly contact based adhesives.


Inventors at UMass Lowell have developed environment-friendly solvent blends that substitute for these hazardous solvents in these solvent-based contact adhesives to significantly reduce the negative health effects while maintaining the performance comparable to current commercial products.

Testing has been performed on the commercial formulations with the following results:

  • Low VOC: less than 250 g/L VOC content
  • Strength:  firmly hold up to required cleavage strength for adhesives
  • Evaporation: dry time of 2 to 5 minutes at 70 – 80°F
  • Open window: open time up to 60 minutes
  • Stability: stable at low temperatures (i.e. 40°F)


  • Solvent-based contact adhesives are used in everyday construction items and are typically used to bond:

o   Wood

o   Metal

o   Leather

o   Fabric

  • Particleboards to create countertops for kitchens and bathrooms

Competitive Advantages

  • Environment-friendly formulation
  • Formulation involves no use of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) and do not introduce any significant environmental, health, and safety hazards
  • Non-corrosive
  • Low odor and colorless formulation
  • Reduce the overall volatile organic compound (VOC) content
  • Cost-comparative  

Market Potential

The green and bio-solvents market, along with its applications, witnessed a moderate-to-high growth in the past few years and is likely to continue so in the in the coming years. According to the market size, in terms of value, of green & bio-solvents is estimated to be about USD 5.58 Billion in 2015 and is projected to reach USD 8.17 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 7.94% between 2015 and 2020. Based upon a 2015 article: “Estimating Emissions from Adhesives and Sealants Uses and Manufacturing for Environmental Risk Assessment”, 3,530,00 tons per year of adhesives and sealants are manufactured/used in Europe, out of which, 51% (1,810,000 tons) are water-borne and 49% (1,720,000 tons) are solvent-borne.     

About the inventors

Dr Christopher Hansen, Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering, has expertise in Material science, self-healing materials, additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing) techniques. He is the 2016 recipient of the Academic Champion of Toxics Use Reduction award for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

For an inventor profile, see:

Gregory Morose is a Research Professor in the Department of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Research Manager for the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI). The focus of his research for the past several years has been evaluation alternatives to toxic chemicals and materials used in products and manufacturing processes. For an inventor profile, see:


Pending, World-wide protection available


“Safer alternatives assessment: the Massachusetts process as a model for state governments”; Journal of Cleaner Production 19 (2011) 517-526



Vijayendra Kumar, PhD

Licensing Associate

Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC)

600 Suffolk Street, Suite 212

Lowell, Massachusetts 01854

Phone: 978-934-4714