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Firm Finds Way to Reuse Construction Waste

Thursday, June 7, 2018

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An industry researcher has taken on the task of figuring out a way to recycle medium-density fiberboard by kicking off FibreCarb, a startup dedicated to recycling waste MDF.

The building material, most often used in building walls and furniture, is usually not easily recyclable due to the glue used in its construction, as well as being composed of wood fibers that are a byproduct of milling.

Breaking Down Building Material

Renewable product researcher Kenny Vanreppelen is pairing up his current recycling company, Act&Sorb, with MDF startup FibreCarb, for the process, which uses an oxygen-absent carbonization method to heat the MDF to a high temperature. From there, the material breaks down into char and gas—the char is further processed according to customer specifications; the gas can be captured and used to power the process.

© iStock.com / Main_sail

The building material, most often used in building walls and furniture, is usually not easily recyclable due to the glue used in its construction, as well as being composed of wood fibers that are a byproduct of milling.

In light of a successful EU-funded trial run in Australia, the startup recently began planning to build its first factory in Europe by 2020. Act&Sorb is also looking into other waste streams it can use.

“At the end of the building or renovating you probably have [fiberboard] as waste and, at this point, it’s not recyclable—it’s only burnt or landfilled,” explained Vanreppelen. “But we’ve developed a process to use it to make a product called activated carbon, which is used as a filter in water purifiers or gas masks.”

Construction industry waste accounts for roughly half of the 1.3 billion tons of solid waste that cities produce globally every year. According to Vanreppelen, Europe tosses 11 million tons of fiberboard every year while more than 70 million tons are discarded every year worldwide.

Besides decreasing the amount of MDF that winds up in landfills, FibreCarb cuts down on the need for fossil fuels through using the gas created during the heating process. Using other forms of waste chipboard also help to reduce the number of trees used to supply the wood to create activated carbon.

“Our ambitions go beyond turning MDF into a value-adding product,” Act&Sorb says on its website. “Our aim is to continue to find innovative and unique solutions for turning all non- or hard to recycle wood waste into high value raw materials and energy. In fact, our aim is to create a world where waste replaces fossil-based materials.”

   

Tagged categories: Building materials; Construction; Recycled building materials; Research and development

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/21/2018, 10:36 AM)

Putting fiberboard in a proper landfill locks up almost all of the carbon. This process only locks up a portion of it, but it does create a valuable product and is certainly better than just burning it.


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