As a low-fat source of protein, tofu in your diet may cut the risk of heart disease. Now, tofu protein in your wood flooring may actually help cut the risk of cancer.
A soy protein found in tofu is now being tested as an alternative to petroleum in adhesives used for composite wood furniture, cabinets, and flooring. Wood composites—a blend of wood particles and glue—have become the standard for interior wood products over the last century.
Most adhesives are petroleum-based. But with the rising cost of petroleum and the increasing scrutiny about its negative effects on human health and the environment, though, the stage may be set for alternatives.
Protein-based adhesives currently comprise less than five percent of the wood composite market, according to Charles Frihart, a research chemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Products Laboratory. He predicts an increase in soy-based adhesives in the future. “Several technologies and environmental factors,” Frihart explains, “have led to a resurgence of protein, especially soy flour, as an important adhesive for interior plywood and wood flooring.”
Scientists have developed a variety of soy polymer glues that now perform as well as their petroleum-based counterparts in high temperature and water exposure tests but lack the carcinogenic formaldehyde vapors.