September 2005

Volume 14, Number 9

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Green Topics

Urea-Formaldehyde-Free Particleboard from Roseburg

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Roseburg Forest Products’ SkyBlend is the first general-use non-urea-formaldehyde particleboard.

Photo: Roseburg Forest Products

Roseburg Forest Products of Roseburg, Oregon, has introduced SkyBlend™, the first general-use particleboard produced with phenol-formaldehyde (PF) binder instead of the industry-standard urea-formaldehyde (UF). Standard particleboard can emit significant quantities of formaldehyde, a chemical reclassified in 2004 from a “probable human carcinogen” to a “known human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization. Though PF also contains formaldehyde, the chemical is locked more tightly to the wood fibers, and formaldehyde emissions are significantly lower. Due to formaldehyde offgassing concerns, the LEED® Rating System includes a credit for avoiding UF-based wood products.

While SkyBlend is not the only particleboard product on the market made with PF binder, it is the only conventional particleboard with this distinction that EBN is aware of. Several specialized particleboard products made with PF resins, such as Resincore 1, made by Rodman Industries of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, serve primarily niche markets.SkyBlend particleboard is made from western softwood fibers and is Green Cross-certified by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) as being made from 100% recycled wood fibers (a post-industrial waste product from lumber mills). The wood fiber is not FSC-certified. The product offers the same physical properties as Roseburg’s Ultrablend particleboard, which is produced with UF binder. While PF binders are more moisture-resistant than UF binders, the company is not claiming that SkyBlend is moisture-resistant. The particleboard core is tinted light blue so that it can be readily identified in the field. According to M. Jeremy Gilliam of the company, “We wanted to make sure it was identifiable in the marketplace.”Because the formaldehyde is tightly bound in SkyBlend’s PF formulation, the product samples EBN examined were nearly odor-free. The company claims that the formaldehyde emissions result in a concentration of about 0.04 parts per million (ppm) under standard test conditions, which is comparable to levels occurring naturally in outdoor air. Typical particleboard, by contrast, can release 7.5 times as much and still meet industry-standard specifications. While touting the benefits of no added UF, Roseburg is forthright in explaining that SkyBlend particleboard is not formaldehyde-free. SkyBlend particleboard is available in industrial grade only, in seven thicknesses, from 1/4" (6 mm) to 1 1/8" (29 mm). Standard dimensions for most thicknesses are 49" x 97" (124 x 246 cm), while the 3/4" (19 mm) and 1 1/8" panels are also available in larger sizes. Custom dimensions may be available for large orders. SkyBlend particleboard costs approximately twice as much as conventional particleboard, according to Gilliam. Even with the premium price, he says, the product is very competitive with other particleboard and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) products that are not made with UF resins—including Sierra Pine’s Medite II® line and the straw particleboard products WoodStalk™ and PrimeBoard™, all of which are made with non-formaldehyde MDI (a polyurethane binder). SkyBlend is produced at Roseburg’s Dillard, Oregon, factory, which has a capacity of about 400 million ft2 (40 million m2) of product, 3/4" basis. If demand warrants it, Gilliam told EBN that the company could devote at least one-quarter of the plant’s output to SkyBlend, producing more than 100 million ft2 (9 million m2) per year. The product will be available through selected distributors within the Roseburg distribution base.

– AW

For more information:

Roseburg Forest Products

Dillard, Oregon

888-275-6244, 541-679-3311

Rodman Industries

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin


Comments (4)

1 Phenol-formaldehyde may have posted by Mitch Gascoyne on 09/07/2005 at 10:01 am

There are many cases where phenolic foam insulation resulted in premature corrosion of the metal roof deck. Does anyone have information regarding the corrosion-inducing potential of this product? Is there potential for the product to get wet and eventually allow the chemically-laden water come into contact with steel building components? Regards, Scott Armstrong Halcrow Yolles Toronto, Canada

2 Wood products quite different posted by Alex Wilson on 09/07/2005 at 12:37 pm

Phenolic foam is composed of a very high percentage of phenolic resin--probably close to 100%, while wood products using phenol-formaldehyde (PF) binders contain just a few percent phenolic resin. If there were a corrosion problem, I suspect we'd have heard a lot about it with exterior-grade plywood, which is always produced with PF binders or OSB which is most commonly--but not always--prduced with PF binders. -Alex Wilson

3 Recycled Content posted by Mark Kalin on 10/24/2005 at 06:03 am

The Roseburg website claims that the wood fiber content is 100% pre-consumer recyled content, yet your story says post-industrial. Which is correct? As I understand it, pre-consumer content is not eligible for inclusion in LEED MR Credits.

4 Pre-consumer is the same as p posted by Nadav T. Malin on 10/24/2005 at 10:45 pm

We consider the terms "pre-consumer" and "post-industrial" to be synonymous when it comes to recycled content. With the forthcoming version 2.2, LEED is moving away from the use of "post-industrial" and towards "pre-consumer" because that is the more widely used term internationally. See the article "Recycled Content: What is it and What is it Worth?" in EBN Volume 14, No. 2 for more details on recycled content definitions.

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September 1, 2005