Mussel Power: New Adhesives from Chem Start-up are Sea-Inspired

March 10, 2020

Yachting Journal

A mussel holds onto a Teflon sheet by a tiny strand. Mussel Polymers Inc. (MPI) – a startup created by Wardenclyffe Chemicals Inc., a technology development company – is ready to take sea-inspired adhesives from Purdue to market. (Image courtesy:

Taking technology from academia to market is a well-worn tradition across the maritime and subsea sectors. In this case the ‘innovative’ adhesive technology is actually born from the sea. 

There is a new underwater adhesive technology based on a glue used naturally by marine creatures. Mussel Polymers Inc. (MPI) – a startup created by Wardenclyffe Chemicals Inc., a technology development company – licensed this patented adhesive technology from the Purdue Research Foundation. The technology was created by Jonathan Wilker, a Purdue professor of chemistry and materials engineering, with students in his lab.

“We have been studying sea creatures, how they stick, and designing synthetic mimics of these materials,” Wilker said. “Now we are quite excited to move these new materials from the research lab into the marketplace. There is potential here to impact several industries, including products that people use in their daily lives.”

The adhesive poly(catechol-styrene) (PCS) was engineered to mimic the glue that mussels naturally use to attach to substrates in the ocean, and according to its creators represents the first new adhesive chemistry to reach the market in decades.

The research effort that led to the development of PCS lasted over a decade and was supported with $2 million from the Office of Naval Research.

The team behind Mussel Polymers Inc. licensed the technology through the Purdue Research Foundation’s Office of Technology Commercialization.

“The entire Purdue Research Foundation and OTC teams were extraordinary in helping us move through the process of licensing this technology, laying the groundwork for taking it to market,” said George Boyajian, CEO of Wardenclyffe. “The adhesive technology addresses a range of previously unsolvable wet adhesion problems in a variety of industries from biomedical to aerospace to automotive to cosmetics and construction.”

(Writer: Chris Adam; Sources: Jonathan Wilker, George Boyajian, Brooke Beier)

aerospaceOffice of Naval Researchtechnology development