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Eco-varnish makes timber more sustainable

8 September 2016

A newly developed alternative to oil-based varnish is making wood an even more sustainable choice. Varnish is necessary to prevent wood from degrading due to moisture and high temperatures. Up to now, varnish has generally contained chemicals harmful to the environment, but the EU-funded ECOVARN project has developed a new formula using vegetable oil, a water-based solvent, and nano particles.

The project team is pleased with the results, as previously an environmentally friendly varnish that also provides a nice finish was not available.Pushing the process further, the EU-funded NEXT1KOAT project is using seaweed grown off the coast of Scotland and Ireland to create alcohol that can be processed into sustainable paints and varnishes.

These coatings are safer for workers, as they do not need to be used in highly ventilated areas due to the lack of toxic fumes. The new varnish has also been found to enhance the ability of wood to act as an insulator.

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