Bio-Based Coatings and Adhesives

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Bio-based coatings and adhesives are transforming the way we protect and bond materials, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional petroleum-derived products. They are derived from renewable biomass sources, such as plant oils, starches, lignin, proteins, and other natural polymers. These materials offer a compelling solution to reduce the environmental impact of conventional coatings and adhesives, which often rely on fossil fuels and can release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Impact on climate action

Bio-Based Coatings and Adhesives significantly reduce carbon emissions by replacing traditional petroleum-based counterparts. They promote sustainability in industries like construction and packaging by offering renewable, biodegradable solutions. With widespread adoption, these innovations mitigate climate change, advancing towards a greener future with reduced environmental footprint and carbon emissions.


  • Biomass Extraction and Modification: The fundamental technology involves extracting and modifying natural polymers from biomass sources to create materials suitable for coatings and adhesives. This can involve processes like:
    • Extraction and Purification: Isolating specific polymers from biomass, such as starch from corn or lignin from wood, and refining them to achieve desired purity and functionality.
    • Chemical Modification: Altering the chemical structure of natural polymers to enhance their properties, such as improving their adhesion, water resistance, or durability.
    • Blending and Formulation: Combining different bio-based polymers and additives to create formulations with specific performance characteristics tailored for targeted applications.
  • Polymer Chemistry and Material Science: Understanding the chemistry of bio-based polymers and how they interact with other materials is crucial for developing effective coatings and adhesives. Researchers in material science are constantly exploring new ways to enhance the performance and functionality of these materials.

TRL : 7-9 (depending on the specific material and application)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • High-Performance Bio-Based Resins: Innovations are focused on creating bio-based resins with improved properties like high strength, water resistance, UV resistance, and heat resistance, making them suitable for demanding applications.
  • Bio-Based Crosslinkers: Developing bio-based crosslinkers that can react with bio-based polymers to create stronger and more durable coatings and adhesives. This eliminates the need for synthetic crosslinkers derived from fossil fuels.
  • Self-Healing Bio-Based Coatings: Exploring self-healing properties in bio-based coatings, where microcapsules containing healing agents are embedded in the coating matrix. When the coating is damaged, the microcapsules release the healing agents, repairing the damage and extending the lifespan of the coating.
  • Antimicrobial Bio-Based Coatings: Incorporating natural antimicrobial agents, such as essential oils or plant extracts, into bio-based coatings to prevent microbial growth and enhance product hygiene. This is particularly relevant for food packaging and medical applications.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Advanced Bio-Polymer Blends
  • Eco-Friendly Adhesion Enhancers
  • High-Durability Plant-Based Resins
  • Renewable Crosslinking Technologies
  • Bio-Based Anti-Corrosive Coatings
  • Sustainable Water-Repellent Coatings
  • Biomass-Derived Nano-Additives
  • VOC-Free Bio-Adhesives
  • Lignin-Based Adhesive Solutions
  • Protein-Based Bonding Agents
  • Starch-Derived Coating Formulations
  • Plant Oil-Based Polymer Systems
  • Enhanced Bio-Polymer Longevity
  • Renewable Adhesive Innovations
  • Low-Impact Adhesion Technologies

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. BioAmber:
    • Technology Enhancement: BioAmber specializes in producing bio-succinic acid, a key building block for various bio-based products including coatings and adhesives. Their proprietary technology allows for the fermentation of renewable feedstocks into bio-succinic acid.
    • Uniqueness: BioAmber’s technology offers a sustainable alternative to traditional petroleum-based succinic acid, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and lowering the environmental impact of coatings and adhesives.
    • End-User Segments Addressed: BioAmber serves industries such as coatings, adhesives, and sealants, catering to manufacturers looking for eco-friendly alternatives to conventional chemicals.
  2. CropEnergies:
    • Technology Enhancement: CropEnergies focuses on producing bioethanol from renewable raw materials such as grains and sugar beets. Bioethanol serves as a key ingredient in bio-based coatings and adhesives, providing a sustainable alternative to petrochemical-derived solvents.
    • Uniqueness: CropEnergies’ bioethanol production process is highly efficient and sustainable, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and promoting the use of renewable resources in industrial applications.
    • End-User Segments Addressed: CropEnergies primarily caters to the coatings and adhesives industry, offering bioethanol as a renewable solvent for formulating environmentally friendly products.
  3. EcoSynthetix:
    • Technology Enhancement: EcoSynthetix specializes in developing bio-based polymers derived from renewable feedstocks such as starch and sugar. These polymers are used as binders in coatings and adhesives, offering improved performance and sustainability.
    • Uniqueness: EcoSynthetix’s bio-based polymers provide an alternative to petroleum-based binders, offering comparable or superior performance while reducing the environmental footprint of end products.
    • End-User Segments Addressed: EcoSynthetix serves a diverse range of industries including paper and packaging, building materials, and coatings, providing bio-based binders for formulating environmentally friendly products.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Wageningen University & Research (Netherlands):
    • Research Focus: Wageningen University’s research in Bio-Based Coatings and Adhesives centers on developing sustainable coatings and adhesives derived from renewable biomass sources such as agricultural residues, algae, and bio-based polymers.
    • Uniqueness: Wageningen’s approach involves the utilization of advanced biotechnology and green chemistry techniques to design coatings and adhesives with improved performance and environmental compatibility. Their research often explores innovative formulations and processing methods to enhance the properties and functionality of bio-based materials.
    • End-use Applications: The applications of Wageningen’s research span various industries, including construction, automotive, packaging, and textiles. Their bio-based coatings offer alternatives to petroleum-derived counterparts, providing eco-friendly solutions for surface protection, corrosion resistance, and adhesion in diverse applications.
  2. North Carolina State University (USA):
    • Research Focus: North Carolina State University’s research in Bio-Based Coatings and Adhesives focuses on developing bio-based polymers and nanomaterials for use in coatings and adhesives with enhanced performance and sustainability.
    • Uniqueness: NC State’s research integrates materials science, polymer chemistry, and nanotechnology to engineer bio-based coatings and adhesives with tailored properties such as strength, flexibility, and durability. Their work often explores novel bio-derived raw materials and eco-friendly processing techniques to reduce environmental impact.
    • End-use Applications: The applications of NC State’s research include automotive coatings, wood finishes, biomedical adhesives, and packaging materials. Their bio-based coatings and adhesives offer advantages such as biodegradability, low toxicity, and reduced carbon footprint, making them suitable for various industrial and consumer applications.
  3. University of Freiburg (Germany):
    • Research Focus: The University of Freiburg’s research in Bio-Based Coatings and Adhesives focuses on developing sustainable coatings and adhesives from renewable resources, with an emphasis on biopolymer synthesis and formulation.
    • Uniqueness: Freiburg’s research explores the use of bio-based feedstocks and green chemistry principles to design coatings and adhesives that meet performance requirements while minimizing environmental impact. Their approach often involves the development of biodegradable polymers, bio-based resins, and natural additives for improved functionality.
    • End-use Applications: The applications of Freiburg’s research encompass industries such as packaging, textiles, electronics, and construction. Their bio-based coatings and adhesives offer advantages such as recyclability, renewability, and compatibility with sustainable manufacturing practices, addressing the growing demand for eco-friendly materials in various sectors.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Bio-based coatings and adhesives are already being used in a variety of commercial applications, including:

  • Wood Coatings: Bio-based varnishes, paints, and stains are gaining popularity as a sustainable alternative for protecting wood surfaces.
  • Food Packaging: Bio-based coatings are being used to enhance the barrier properties of food packaging, extending shelf life and reducing food waste.
  • Construction Adhesives: Bio-based adhesives are being used in construction applications, offering a sustainable alternative to traditional construction adhesives.