One of the most common lumber products used by home builders is OSB, which stands for Oriented Strand Board. It is not to be confused with particle board, which is basically sawdust and resin. With its limited structural strength, particle board is used primarily in furniture, cabinetry and countertops, typically under Formica.
OSB is a structural replacement for plywood, and is used extensively by builders for roof, wall and floor sheathing. It is also used in manufactured floor joists and is the skin material for structural insulated panels (SIPs).
Www.Naturallywood.com explains that OSB “is made from wood strands 8 to 15 centimeters long. It uses the whole tree and makes use of crooked, knotty and deformed trees that would otherwise go unused.” Although that’s an economical use of waste timber, OSB is not as sustainable as the product invented by Plantd, an Oxford, NC, startup which won the “Most Innovative Startup” award from the National Association of Home Builders at this year’s International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas.
What the company invented was an OSB substitute made from a proprietary grass that grows to 20 feet tall in a single season, drawing CO2 out of the atmosphere far quicker than trees do. The company claims that 14,000 acres of grass plantations can produce as much material as 400,000 acres of managed timber lands. These qualities make Plantd’s grass a superior crop for addressing climate change, which was the original objective of the company’s founders. “At Plantd,” says the company’s press release, “we are leading a shift to materials made from renewable grass and building the factory of the future to ensure atmospheric carbon captured in the field is locked away inside the walls and floors of new homes.” Here’s a great 10-minute video: https://youtu.be/tzuuEFemVDY
With $10 million in venture capital, the company will manufacture its “carbon negative building materials” in a former cigarette factory. Moreover, the farmers who previously grew tobacco will now be growing the grass needed by the factory, helping the local economy recover from the closing of the cigarette factory.
The company has been getting lots of national press, which you can read at www.PlantdMaterials.com.
Plantd is now constructing the first of its automated, modular, all-electric production lines at its new facility, with a target to open within the next 12 months, according to the May 3rd press release.
Here’s an excerpt from the website’s home page: “Throughout history, civilizations have advanced at the speed of material innovation. Timber, steel, and concrete enabled remarkable progress, but today they are the problem, not the solution. Continuing to build with these materials accelerates climate change and promises to impede progress by threatening our future on this planet. We see a world built from grass. A world where buildings no longer cause climate change but are central to the solution. Where they are stronger, more durable, and more affordable.”
Plantd’s founders, left to right: Josh Dorfman, CEO; Nathan Silvernail, COO; and Huade Tan, CTO. The latter two were formerly engineers at SpaceX.
The website claims that their product will be stronger, lighter, more moisture resistant, carbon negative, and will cost the same as regular OSB.
Plantd’s panels have just two ingredients: the perennial grass plus a small amount of resin (with the formaldehyde reacted out before reaches Plantd’s factory). This creates a low-VOC product with fewer chemical additives compared to other products, according to Plantd.