Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Green Economy

New Recyclable & Biodegradable Building Material Based On Plant Starches Developed

A novel new form of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) that’s both biodegradable and recyclable can be created by substituting a resin derived from common plant starches, such as those in potatoes, for the urea and formaldehyde that are typically used in MDF.

The new creation is thanks to research from the University of Leicester. The researchers behind the new resin think that the development of the new recyclable MDF will help to reduce the enormous waste that typically accompanies the use of MDF — as it stands now, most of the huge quantities of MDF produced annually in the UK ends up in the incinerator or the landfill within a year or two, as it cannot be recycled.

recyclable furniture

Cupboards. Image Credit: © Andy Abbott

Given that most MDF in the UK is used primarily for short-term applications in the retail sector, the development of an MDF-substitute that can actually be recycled could do a great deal to help reduce the quantity of waste produced by the retail sector, according to the researchers.

The University of Leicester provides more info:

MDF is made by breaking down bits of wood into wood fibres, which are then pressurized and stuck together with resin and wax. The resin is currently composed of urea and formaldehyde (UF), the use of which is restricted due to health concerns. Professor Abbott’s new resin means that the use of UF is avoided and therefore so too are the associated concerns.

With the aid of colleagues at the Biocomposites Centre, Bangor University and the Leicestershire-based retail design company Sheridan and Co, his team have produced starch-based boards which have been made into retail display units. Professor Abbott’s new material is easier to manufacture and easier to work with than current MDF boards.

The experimental part of the research was led by Dr Will Wise, who stated: “It has been a technological challenge to develop material with the correct properties, but it is a great thrill to see the finished boards which look identical to the MDF which is so commonly used.”

The new material is easier to manufacture than existing MDF as the components are easily pre-mixed and only set on the application of heat and pressure; end user feedback suggests it is also easier to work with than currently available MDF boards.

The researchers recently won the Royal Society Brian Mercer Award for Innovation for the new recyclable MDF, after receiving the award, Professor Abbott stated: “The Brian Mercer Award is fundamental in enabling us to take this project forward to the next stage; it means we can now scale up our process from laboratory to the full scale manufacture of a product that I hope will revolutionize industries dependent on MDF and provide them with a more environmentally-friendly alternative.”

In total, the award will provide the researchers with about £172,347 — nearly all of which will be used “to create a supply chain to create prototypes for the point-of-sale market.”

The research team is also currently in the process of developing new fillers for plastics based on orange and banana peels and eggshells.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


You May Also Like

Clean Power

A gas-and-electric utility dreams of a decarbonized future for the US with an assist from green hydrogen and long duration energy storage.


Q&A with LA100 Study Lead Jaquelin Cochran For decades, power system planning has optimized costs and efficiency over the experiences of some communities, meaning...

Climate Change

The threat of a catastrophic failure unleashing a 20-foot wall of industrial wastewater over nearby homes and businesses in Piney Point, Florida, illustrates the danger...

Market Research

NREL Analysts Advance Understanding of Options, Opportunities To Repair, Reuse, or Recycle Solar Photovoltaic System Materials

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.