BASF has developed a technology for plasticizing lightweight wood panel material for case goods, cabinetry and furniture: Kaurit Light. Wood-based panels made with the new technology weigh 30 percent less than conventional particleboard while offering the same strength, says BASF.

Kaurit Light panels consist of wood chips, a foamed polymer and Kaurit glue.

With Kaurit Light, about 200 kilograms (441 lbs.) of wood per cubic meter (35 cubic feet) of wood-based panel are replaced by 15 to 25 kilograms (about 45 lbs.) of polymer.

The polymer is added in the form of foam beads only in the middle layer. Although the panel now incorporates much more air, BASF's development scientists have succeeded in achieving practically the same strength as with conventional particleboard.

The result is a  wood-based panel that now weighs only 450 kilograms (1,000 lbs.)  per cubic meter one-third less than standard particleboard. BASF says the more lightweight particleboard has been tested for strength by major global hardware manufacturers, and that it meets environmental recyclability criteria similar to conventional particleboard.

BASF's information page for Ligna 2013 indicates it will be showing lightweight panel technology from its inorganics group.