Several interesting trends are shaping the future of adhesives and sealants that are aimed at the building and construction sector. Many of these are driven by environmental factors and new design practices such as "green" or "sustainable" buildings. But other trends are due to concerns about natural hazards (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.) and the general economy. All in all, it looks like building and construction adhesives should have an exciting future.
In the construction market, various regional groups are campaigning for more environmentally friendly or "green" buildings. These applications will require more environmentally friendly adhesives and sealants. The adhesives industry is working with these groups to promote the use of fewer volatile organic compounds (VOC), thus reducing emissions and odors that contribute to respiratory problems and poor air quality in buildings.
"Green building" refers to the larger shift from standard building practices, which are typically guided by short term economic consideration to "best practices" emphasizing quality construction, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, conservation of water and other natural resources and thoughtful planning and design for human productivity and health. The continued adoption of green building on a global scale seems promising as more and more countries and building organizations seek to establish standards and incentives to promote sustainable building practices.
In addition to VOC emissions, odor has been a major problem for flooring adhesives. This is partly due to the reduction or substitution of low boiling solvents in "low VOC" adhesives with so-called "high-boiling" or plasticizer substances that are used as a medium for transporting the tackifier resin into the polymer. The problem of odor becomes apparent with the passing of time. Despite the high boiling point of these plasticizers, they release relatively quickly into the ambient atmosphere with potential adverse odor and environmental problems.
Several recent adhesive systems have been developed that provide solutions to these problems.
One key demand that may be reflected in the market growth rate is the drive to longer-lasting, more durable products. This includes moisture curing polyurethane adhesives and high performance sealants such as polyurethane, silicone, and styrene block copolymers. No single type of high performance product will dominate. However, they will take market share away from standard systems such as polyvinyl acetate, acrylic, and other synthetic rubber formulations.
The demands of todays new construction techniques also require new products to age well and perform under a variety of environmental extremes. Natural disasters making headlines over the past several years have brought additional focus on the subject.
The roofing industry is developing storm resistant adhesives that can be used on single ply roof construction. Wind loosened shingles can become missiles in a hurricane wind. It has also been found that when single-ply roofing membranes were bonded directly to polyisocyanate insulation, delamination was noted after a hail storm. This was not due to the loss of adhesion, but to the fact that the cells directly beneath the dynamic load caused by the hail impact lost their physical integrity. A fix to this problem has been installation of a cover board over the polyisocyanate in most applications.
The subject of mold growth has also risen to an advanced state in the industry. New antimicrobial ingredients are being developed to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on the surface of sealants and adhesives as well as on the surfaces of other building materials.
A host of new building materials is also being developed and installed. These require special consideration in selection of the proper adhesive or sealant. The innovative new materials include a myriad of composites and plastics that demand adhesives and sealants that are optimized to those surfaces.
In the infrastructure construction sector, the use of adhesives is expected to grow significantly due to the aging infrastructures. Also, the use of epoxy adhesive systems with fiber reinforcement is expected to increase significantly. Such adhesives will be applied to bridge piers, beams, and other elements requiring repair. These adhesives can be used to not only repair deteriorating structures but they will also provide added strength to new structures.