OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Li, Kaichang

Position Type: 
Faculty
Job Title: 
Professor
Department: 
Wood Science & Engineering
Office Location: 

102 Richardson Hall

Phone Number: 
(541) 737-8421
Fax Number: 
(541) 737-3385
Education: 
Ph.D., Wood Chemistry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, September 1996
M.S., Organic Synthesis, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, P.R. China, 1987
B.S., Applied Chemistry, South China Univeristy of Technology, Guangzhou, P.R. China, June 1984
Research Areas: 
  • Composite Materials
Research Interests: 
  • Natural-fiber-reinforced Polymer Composites
  • Pressure-sensitive Adhesives
  • Renewable Adhesives
  • Styrene-free Thermosetting Resins
  • Wood-based Composites
Bio: 
Current/Recent Programs

My research programs encompass the following broad areas: 1) development of formaldehyde-free wood adhesives from renewable natural resources, 2) development and characterization of new environmentally friendly pressure sensitive adhesives from renewable natural resources, 3) development and characterization of superior natural fiber reinforced polymer composites, 4) investigation of interfacial chemistry of natural fiber-reinforced polymer composites, 5) development and characterization of new environmentally friendly foundry sand binders from renewable natural resources

Development of Formaldehyde-Free Wood Adhesives. There are two important issues associated with the currently used wood adhesives, phenol-formaldehyde (PF) and urea-formaldehyde (UF), in the forest products industry: 1) These synthetic adhesives are petroleum-based, whereas the resources for petroleum are naturally limited; 2) Hazardous compounds such as formaldehyde may be emitted in the production and the use of wood composites bonded with PF and UF resins. Our objective for this study is to develop a commercially viable formaldehyde-free wood adhesive from renewable natural resources for production of wood composites.

Inspired by the strong and water-resistant bonding of marine organisms such as mussels to rocks and other substances, we are investigating conversion of renewable natural resources such as soy protein, carbohydrates, and lignin to strong and water-resistant wood adhesives. At present, one of our formaldehyde-free soy-based adhesives is commercially used for production of decorative plywood. A second generation of a formaldehyde-free wood adhesive that consists completely of natural materials, i.e., does not contain any petrochemical-based products is being evaluated at a mill scale for production of plywood panels.

Development and characterization of new environmentally friendly pressure sensitive adhesives from renewable natural resources. We have recently invented three independent environmentally friendly pressure sensitive adhesive technologies from renewable materials such as vegetable oils. One of the adhesive technologies has been licensed by a big company and commercialization of the technology is ongoing. We are seeking for industry partners to commercialize the other two technologies. Our pressure sensitive adhesives are either solely based on renewable materials or use a small amount of petrochemicals. No toxic chemicals or organic solvents are used in the preparation of our adhesives. The adhesives and the process of making the adhesives are very environmentally friendly. The adhesives are cost-competitive to existing petrochemical-based pressure sensitive adhesives.

Development and characterization of superior natural fiber-reinforced polymer composites. We are developing and characterizing novel natural-fiber-reinforced unsaturated polyester composites. We focus on use of bamboo fibers as reinforcing materials.

Investigation of interfacial chemistry of natural fiber-reinforced unsaturated polyester composites. Natural fiber-reinforced polymer composites such as bamboo-reinforced unsaturated polyester composites are one of the fastest growing sectors in the composites industry. However, the interface between the natural fibers and the polyester is typically weak and fails to transfer stress between the phases. Consequently, the full strength of the natural fibers is unavailable to reinforce the polyester. One solution to this problem is the use of a coupling agent that bridges the interface and improves the stress transfer between the natural fibers and polyester. We are developing a superior family of coupling agents and gaining a better understanding of interfacial chemistry of natural fiber-reinforced polymer composites.

Development and characterization of new environmentally friendly foundry sand binders from renewable natural resources. We have recently invented novel environmentally friendly foundry sand binders from carbohydrates. We are currently seeking industry partners to commercialize this novel technology.

Development of novel styrene-free unsaturated polyester resins. Conventional unsaturated polyester resins all contain a high amount of carcinogenic styrene. We are developing styrene-free environmentally friendly unsaturated polyester resins from renewable materials.

Advising

Graduate Major Advisor
Graduate Students: 
Courses Taught: 
WSE 321
Chemistry of Renewable Materials
Chemical structures and chemical properties of renewable plant-based materials will be taught at molecular levels. Chemical compositions of different renewable materials will be covered. Chemical and biochemical modifications and applications or renewable materials will be discussed in detail.
WSE 535
Polymer Synthesis and Structure
Selected Publications: 
  1. Ren, X., R. Qiu, L. S. Filfield, K. L. Simmons, and K. Li. 2012. Effects of surface treatments on mechanical properties and water resistance of kenaf fiber-reinforced unsaturated polyester composites. J. Adhesion Sci. Technol. Available online: 17 May 2012.
  2. Qiu, R., X. Ren, and K. Li. 2012. Effect of fiber modification with a novel compatibilizer on the mechanical properties and water absorption of hemp-fiber-reinforced unsaturated polyester composites. Polym. Eng. Sci.:in press.
  3. Ren, X., R. Qiu, and K. Li. 2012. Modifications of kenaf fibers with N-methylol acrylamide for production of kenaf-unsaturated polyester composites. J. Appl. Polym. Sci.:52(6): 1342-1347
  4. Huang, J., C. Li, and K. Li. 2012. A new soy flour-polyepoxide adhesive system for making interior plywood. Holzforschung: Published Online: 27/02/2012
  5. Gu, K., J. Huang, and K. Li. 2012. Preparation and evaluation of particleboard bonded with a soy flour-based adhesive with a new curing agent J. Adhesion Sci. Technol.:in press.
  6. Jang, Y., J. Huang, and K. Li. 2011. A new formaldehyde-free wood adhesive from renewable materials. Int. J. Adhesion Adhesives 31:754-759.
  7. Qiu, R., X. Ren, L. S. Filfield, K. L. Simmons, and K. Li. 2011. Hemp-fiber-reinforced unsaturated polyester composites: optimixation of processing and improvement of interfacial adhesion. J. Appl. Polym. Sci.:121(2), 862-868
  8. Catal, T., Y. Fan, K. Li, H. Bermek, and H. Liu. 2011. Utilization of mixed monsaccharides for power generation in microbial fuel cells. J. Chem. Technol. Biotechnol. 86(4), 570-574
  9. Gu, K., and K. Li. 2011. Preparation and evaluation of particleboard with a soy flour-polyethylenimine-maleic anhydride adhesive. J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc:88 (5), 673-679