Production of renewable phenolic resins by thermochemical conversion of biomass: a review

A. Effendi, H. Gerhauser, Anthony V. Bridgwater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This review covers the production and utilisation of liquids from the thermal processing of biomass and related materials to substitute for synthetic phenol and formaldehyde in phenol formaldehyde resins. These resins are primarily employed in the manufacture of wood panels such as plywood, MDF, particle-board and OSB. The most important thermal conversion methods for this purpose are fast pyrolysis and vacuum pyrolysis, pressure liquefaction and phenolysis. Many feedstocks have been tested for their suitability as sources of phenolics including hard and softwoods, bark and residual lignins. Resins have been prepared utilising either the whole liquid product, or a phenolics enriched fraction obtained after fractional condensation or further processing, such as solvent extraction. None of the phenolics production and fractionation techniques covered in this review are believed to allow substitution of 100% of the phenol content of the resin without impacting its effectiveness compared to commercial formulations based on petroleum derived phenol. This survey shows that considerable progress has been made towards reaching the goal of a price competitive renewable resin, but that further research is required to meet the twin challenges of low renewable resin cost and satisfactory quality requirements. Particular areas of concern are wood panel press times, variability of renewable resin properties, odour, lack of reactive sites compared to phenol and potential for increased emissions of volatile organic compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2092-2116
Number of pages25
JournalRenewable and sustainable energy reviews
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • pyrolysis liquids
  • thermolysis liquids
  • resins


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