New Research Project on MDF Recycling Launched

18. March 2022

Abirec MDF Recycling

At the beginning of this year, the “AbiRec” research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action saw its kick-off. The objective of the project is to develop a two-step recycling extraction process for the material utilisation of used wood.

MDF, which mostly consists of softwood fibres, is to serve as a model material. In order to avoid using MDF for energetic purposes at the end of its life, but rather recycle it, defibration for fibre recovery is essential from the very start.

Based on state-of-the-art technology, the fibres regained shall subsequently be extracted by way of hypercritical CO2 extraction. Thereby, resin and fatty acids additionally contained in the fibres as well as hydrophobing agents applied in particleboard manufacture can be isolated. Resins and fats are also crucial secondary raw materials for the paints and varnishes industry, where they are applied in the manufacture of bonding agents, for example, to purposefully influence their properties, such as chemical resistance or gloss. The extracted wood fibres and hydrophobing agents made from them can, in their turn, be fed back into MDF manufacture again. In addition, the extraction is expected to remove part of the binders adhering to the fibres and their fragments. This is also to increase the wettability of the fibres gained in comparison with non-post-treated recycled fibres and, at the same time, to decrease the emission that otherwise occurs due to the bonding agent residues and their fragments. Consequently, the fibres would gain in attractivity for reuse in MDF manufacture or also in other applications, such as insulation materials.

As a result, a synergistic process for fibre recovery and CO2-based extraction is to be established. Thus, several valuable materials (fibres, resins/fats/hydrophobing agents) will be generated from one component to be recycled (MDF) aiming at closing material cycles further.

The contact at the IHD is:

Dr. Florian Kettner
Phone +49-351-4662-498