The reactivity of melamine-urea-formaldehyde resins is of key importance in the manufacture of engineered wood products such as medium density fibreboard (MDF) and other wood composite products. Often the MDF manufacturing plant has little available information on the resin reactivity other than details of the resin specification at the time of batch manufacture, which often occurs off-site at a third-party resin plant. Often too, fresh resin on delivery at the MDF plant is mixed with variable volume of aged resin in storage tanks, thereby rendering any specification of the fresh resin batch obsolete. It is therefore highly desirable to develop a real-time, at-line or on-line, process analytical technology to monitor the quality of the resin prior to MDF panel manufacture. Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy has been calibrated against standard quality methods and against 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) measures of molecular composition in order to provide at-line process analytical technology (PAT), to monitor the resin quality, particularly the formaldehyde content of the resin. At-line determination of formaldehyde content in the resin was made possible using a six-factor calibration with an R2(cal) value of 0.973, and R2(CV) value of 0.929 and a root-mean-square error of cross-validation of 0.01. This calibration was then used to generate control charts of formaldehyde content at regular four-hourly periods during MDF panel manufacture in a commercial MDF manufacturing plant.
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry / Vol. 409, No. 3, pp.763-771