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Soy & Mussel Adhesives

September 28, 2017

A researcher develops a shellfish-inspired glue, made with soybeans.


Mussels AAAS/522 Productions

Mussels adhere strongly to rocks without fouling the air. (AAAS/522 Productions)


Mussels help clear the air. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A major source of indoor air pollution is plywood made with toxic formaldehyde-based adhesives. In his search for new adhesives, Oregon State University chemist Kaichang Li studied mussels, a shellfish that produces a protein-based glue that sticks to rocks even when theyre wet.

KAICHANG LI (Oregon State University):

As a chemist, I would say, this is amazing, how can they develop something that can stick to the dirty, wet surface?


With a grant from the US Department of Agriculture, Li analyzed the glue and developed a soy-based imitation of it. His non-toxic adhesive has now led to formaldehyde-free plywood. This week, Li received a Golden Goose Award for his work, given for federally funded research that sounds funny, but that leads to serious advances in science and industry. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon