CORVALLIS, Ore. - The scientists were trying to create an environmentally-friendly glue for wood compositive products.
Instead, a team of Oregon State University researchers discovered an inexpensive glue made from renewable resources that could change the way tape, sticky notes, bottle labels - basically any product that requires a pressure-sensitive adhesive - are made.
"The way it works, even though things are so simple, you have to be able to come up with the idea," said Kaichang Li, a professor of wood science and engineering at the OSU College of Forestry.
Li and his team of researchers were trying to create a new type of hot melt adhesive, which is solid at room temperature. It can be used when making furniture and is heated to use.
But their product, based on vegetable oil, was sticky at room temperature.
Li told his research associate, Anlong Li, to stop.
Then they tested the resin on paper - and it stuck.
When asked if he could see the product being used by people every day, Li said, "I hope so."
"Whoever licenses this technology will be very competitive in the market place," he said.
Li said the product is a hot commodity because, unlike other adhesives on the market, it does not contain petrochemicals and is simple and inexpensive to make.
The ingredients - vegetable oil and a second renewable ingredient - are mixed together and heated to create the adhesive.
The new glue is so easy to produce, Li said you could whip up a batch in your kitchen - if he were to reveal the secret ingredient.
OSU has applied for a patent and is look for a company to develop the product for commerical use.