Inorganic polymer bio-composites
About this project
The aim of this project was to develop a generic production methodology with sound underpinning science and technology, leading to pre-commercial prototypes of general purpose boards (herein termed ‘bioboards’) that are wholly derived from sustainable resources and which make maximum use of agricultural lignocellulosic residues. Ideally, all bioboard components: aggregate (straw), binder (biosilicate) and hardener (by-product wastes) were to be derived from agricultural residues. The resultant bioboards were envisaged to have advantages of being inexpensive, environmentally benign, chemically and biologically resistant, and physically and mechanically stable. By employing a variety of agri-derived raw materials, the project aimed to minimise its impact on the environment and biodiversity and maximise socio-economic benefits through optimum resource utilisation and added value to farming communities and the manufacturing and retail industry.
The project led by the University of York brought together a full supply chain consortium, each with given roles and responsibilities: B&Q – furniture manufacturer and DIY retailers; CS Process Engineering – panel production systems (Compak) developer and manufacturer; PQ Corporation - silicate manufacturer; Bioflame waste biomass power plant manufacturer and provider of biomass ash (withdrew in 2011) and Velcourt Farm and Management and Bical – Raw Materials producers (withdrew 2011); EPR Ltd – provider of biomass ash (joined 2011); Eccleshall Biomass Ltd – provider of biomass ash (joined 2011); E4 Structures – composite materials manufacturers (joined 2012); Envirowall Ltd – composite materials manufacturers. University of York, Bangor University and Velcourt R&D provided the R&D support. The programme was sponsored by Defra through the Renewable Materials LINK programme and by research grant from AHDB-HGCA.
The technical standard and target application for the bioboards were set by B&Q based on their market research in the area of kitchen cabinet doors, carcases and worktops, which were based on chipboard/wood/MDF, i.e. troubled resources based on competition for wood with other markets and health concerns with respect to use of formaldehyde, urea and isocyanate adhesives.
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