Wood is a strong, durable, and renewable resource that is popular in construction, especially for furniture, but it grows more expensive year by year. Engineered wood products such as medium-density fibreboard (MDF) or particle board are much more economical solutions that are common in many homes around the world. However, there is a certain danger in their manufacture that is important to monitor.
MDF and particle board are created by compressing wood chips or fibres with a resin, usually a urea-formaldehyde mix, and shaping it into boards. The formaldehyde is irreplaceable in this process, but it is a known carcinogen. Care must be taken to keep the amount of formaldehyde at the minimum level required for a successful product, to reduce its ability to harm the producers or consumers.
The way formaldehyde and urea are checked in the creation of MDF or particle board is through elemental determination, specifically carbon and nitrogen. By monitoring the ratios of carbon and nitrogen in urea-formaldehyde resins, manufacturers can keep an eye on their production in real-time, ensuring that the blends are correct. A typical urea-formaldehyde resin has between 5-30% carbon and 15-30% nitrogen.
Macro carbon/nitrogen determinators, like LECO's CN928, can determine these values in cycle times as quick as 6 minutes, providing a steady stream of data for monitoring and quality assurance purposes. Learn more from Fred Schultz, LECO applications chemist, as he delves into the world of elemental determination in adhesives in this on-demand webinar.