Making glues and adhesives is a major industry worldwide, estimated at 6 billion pounds annually. The uses, far beyond the familiar glue bottle, include construction, transportation and aerospace. Unfortunately, much of this product is not degradable and is harmful to the environment.
In contrast, marine mussels make an adhesive which is biodegradable. The shells of these mollusks cling to rocks while resisting water and wave action. Perhaps some readers have tried to pry one loose, a difficult task. Scientists are working to mimic this strong, user-friendly glue. One positive application is the closing of tissue in surgery. It is also found that the artificial ‘mussel glue’ can be deactivated. That is, the adhesive detaches when exposed to a slight electrical current. This could benefit the removal of wound dressings, and on a large scale would help in recycling the glue components.
Mussels from the sea are providing us with high-tech instruction on modern adhesives. This is one of countless examples of biomimicry, the discovery of new products and problem solutions by exploring nature. Clearly, the fingerprints of the Creator are all around us.