[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

New Ag paper/building material listserve

  (Sorry for any duplication.)
  Greetings to Friends of Innovative Agricultural Developments:
  We are pleased to invite you to join a new list serve, AG-RES, devoted to
  promoting the research, development and marketing of pulp, paper and
  construction materials made from agricultural residues. (These include
  straw, corn stalks, grasses, etc.) This discussion group is open to
  everyone: farmers, agronomists and soil scientists; pulp and paper
  producers, experts, consultants and workers; environmentalists, policy
  makers and educators; transportation sector representatives; potential
  investors; and other interested parties.
  Some of the issues the group will be addressing include:
  1) projects incorporating agricultural fibers into building materials;
  2) projects incorporating agricultural fibers in pulping and paper product
  lines; 3) incorporating agricultural fibers directly into an existing kraft
  pulping process; 4) the availability of the straw in different regions,
  with an emphasis on determining how much is a available where and at what
  time; 5) the costs of collecting agricultural fibers, including labor,
  storage and transportion; 6) the availability of investment money and
  potential profit margins; and 7) a discussion of the rural
  development/value-added issues.
  Many of you undoubtedly realize that agricultural residues are currently
  being made into both newsprint and paper, as well as particleboard and a
  few different types of construction panels. If not, direct your attention
  to the articles at the end of this letter.
  Please note that there are already two list servers devoted to straw bale
  home construction. We suggest that you join one of them if that is your
  primary interest, as we would like this group to focus on developing new
  products and markets for agricultural residues. To subscribe to them, send
  the message "subscribe strawbale" or "subscribe greenbuilding" followed by
  your name to majordomo@crest.org. Of course, you are welcome to join the
  AG-RES list as well!
  Here's a more in-depth preview of some of the issues the group will be
  1) The availability of the straw in different regions, with an emphasis on
  determining how much is available where and at what time: How many farmers
  would be willing to sacrifice their agricultural residues, as opposed to
  wanting to till it back into the soil as a nutrient? How much straw does
  the soil actually need to remain healthy? What are the regulatory
  requirements under the Farm Bill for leaving some portion of the residues
  on the land?
  2) Incorporating agricultural fibers directly into an existing pulping
  process: There have been experiments with this at some plants, but it has
  proven problematic to put straw directly into a kraft pulping process
  because of its high silica and metals content. Are there creative solutions
  to this process?
  3) Incorporating agricultural fibers pulped in a separate facility, into
  the production of a current paper product line:
  -The cost, size and placement of such a facility or facilities needs to be
  investigated. It may be cheapest to send the agricultural fibers to a large
  facility near a paper product manufacturing plant, or best to keep it in a
  location central to the fiber source, or it may be better to have a few
  small straw pulping facilities located near the source of the straw, then
  ship pulp to the manufacturing plant(s).
  4) Incorporating agricultural fibers into construction materials and
  building a facility to manufacture them:
  -Similarly, the cost, size and placement of such a facility or facilities
  needs to be investigated. Can the strength and durability of these products
  compete with wood products? Are there markets for these materials? Are
  there potential pollution problems associated with their manufacturing?
  5) Other costs will obviously have to be assessed:
  -The cost of collecting agricultural fibers, including labor: This will be
  where farmers can earn extra money. Obviously they will have to get enough
  money out of this to make it worth their time and labor.
  -The cost of storing straw: Will new storage facilities be needed? Is there
  enough storage capacity currently available? It is most cost effective to
  operate a pulp mill throughout the year, so some would have to be stored
  for winter use, or run it seasonally with less storage capacity?
  -The cost of transporting straw or pulp to manufacturing facilities: Is
  rail better than truck?
  -The total cost of processing: This includes labor, materials, and possibly
  paying back the costs of a new facility.
  6) Is there investment money available for these projects? This could
  become a key point if it becomes clear that a new facility is needed! What
  kinds of government and industry sponsored grants or loans are available to
  help start these projects.
  7) A discussion of the rural development/value-added issues: how can
  farmers negotiate to ensure that they receive equity in the mills they
  supply? How do we best convey the message that this is a type of resource
  use that will create local jobs, boost rural tax bases, and provide
  economic benefits to a sector of the economy that has been struggling.
  So, in closing, please join us if you have questions, or ideas, and pass
  this invitation on to others who you think might be interested. If you're
  interested in joining this working group please send your SUBSCRIBE request
  to listproc@essential.org. The correct syntax for a SUBSCRIBE command is:
  subscribe AG-RES FULLNAME
  (put your full name in place of FULLNAME)
  Should you choose to unsubscribe, please send your UNSUBSCRIBE request to
  listproc@essential.org. The correct syntax for an UNSUBSCRIBE command is:
  unsubscribe AG-RES
  P.S. You should leave the subject line of your message blank when
  subscribing/unsubscribing to avoid confusing the listproccessor.
  Billy Stern                      Meghan Clancy-Hepburn
  Pulp and Paper Strategist        Campaigns Director
  Native Forest Network            Wood Reduction Clearinghouse
  Article #1
  The complete text of this article, "Straw: The Next Great Building
  Material?", by Alex Wilson of Environmental Building News can be found at
  Manufactured Panel Products from Straw
  While straw-bale construction systems have gained most of the media
  attention in the past few years, this is not the only area of activity with
  straw as a building material. There are at least ten companies either
  currently building or planning to build manufacturing plants in North
  America to produce compressed-straw building panels with applications
  ranging from interior partitions to particleboard. Several companies expect
  to build multiple plants. If all of the plans currently underway reach
  fruition, there could be several dozen compressed-straw-panel manufacturing
  plants in North America within five years.
  Compressed-Straw Panels
  Compressed-straw panels are not new. The process for producing "Compressed
  Agricultural Fiber" (CAF) panels was invented in
  Sweden in 1935 by Theodor Dieden, then developed into a commercial product
  in Britain under the name Stramit by Torsten Mossesson in the late 1940s.
  Since original patents have expired on the technology for producing CAF
  panels, numerous companies using the Stramit process have sprung up
  worldwide. Stramit manufacturers are going strong in several European
  countries and Australia, and Stramit Industries, Ltd. of the U.K. claims
  that over 250,000 buildings have been built using these panels.
  All of the products that use the basic Stramit technology make use
  of an interesting property of straw: when straw is compressed
  under high temperature (about 390deg.F or 200deg.C), the straw fibers bond
  together without any adhesives. Some manufacturers claim that the resins in
  the straw somehow fuse together, but Robert Glassco of Pyramod
  International, Inc., one of the pioneers in the United States, claims that
  the straw doesn't really fuse together. Instead, he says, heat makes the
  straw become limp and form around each other from the compression. When the
  material is cooled, the fibers stay in place. "It's really a sophisticated
  bale," he claims. Samples EBN has examined seem to hold together very well.
  Stramit panels range in thickness from 2" to 4" (50 to 100 mm) and are
  faced with heavy-weight kraft paper (similar to that used in drywall).
  Though adhesive is not required to bond the fibers together, it is required
  to secure the facings. These Stramit panels are used primarily for interior
  applications where they can provide complete partition systems. Most of the
  products are pre-routed for electrical wiring, and clips are sold to join
  panels securely together.
  A number of companies are pursuing the idea of gluing several Stramit-type
  panels together, adding protective facings, and using the panels as
  structural insulated panels that can be used as the exterior envelope of
  buildings. In an attempt to restart production, Pyramod Industries has
  erected several prototype
  houses (see photo) using panels that have been stockpiled since their
  factory shut down in the 1980s.
  Because baled straw is a low-density material, shipping costs are
  high--both in dollars and environmental impact (primarily from fuel
  consumption). Will Maertens, an architect and principal of AltMatTec told
  EBN that shipping distances are a major determinant of the economic
  viability of manufacturing panel products, no matter what the raw material
  is. Wood pulp, with a density of 15-20 lb/ft3 (240-320 kg/m3), can be
  cost-effectively shipped up to about 40 miles to a manufacturing plant, he
  said. Straw, which has a density of about 8.4 lb/ft3 (134 kg/m3), can only
  be shipped 18-20 miles (29-32 km) before shipping costs become a major
  economic obstacle.
  The thermal performance of compressed-straw panels is a matter of much
  confusion. Claims range from R-1.25 to R-4 per inch (RSI/m-8.7 to 28) for
  products that appear essentially identical and have densities in the range
  of 15 - 23 lb/ft3 (240 - 370 kg/m3). After investigating many of these
  claims, EBN believes a realistic range to be R-1.4 to R-2 per inch
  (RSI/m-9.7 to 13.9). Some of the highest claims are probably simple
  misconversions from the original metric units, though one company,
  Agriboard Industries, provided a summary page of test reports from a
  certified testing laboratory in Minnesota to support their claim of R-3.4
  per inch (RSI/m-23.6). When EBN contacted the laboratory, a technician
  indicated that the test method quoted had not been used there for many
  years, and he questioned the high R-value given the material's density.
  This issue is extremely important in terms of how appropriate
  compressed-straw panels are for building envelopes; EBN hopes to see
  up-to-date independent test results from manufacturers.
  Thin Panel Products
  Also on the way are higher density straw particleboard panels. Two
  companies have plans to produce furniture-grade particleboard out of finely
  chopped wheat straw. Both will be using an isocyanate binder (MDI), which
  is more weather resistant, non-offgassing, and stronger than the
  urea-formaldehyde usually used for particleboard. The companies claim that
  their products will outperform conventional particleboard.
  Thin panels are also made out of longer straw fibers. Meadowood of Albany,
  Oregon had a fiberboard product on the market for several years made out of
  rye grass straw, but the company has ceased production temporarily. Sea
  Star Trading Company, a dealer in ecological timber products, will soon
  reintroduce the product with an optional hardwood veneer.
  Conclusions & Predictions
  There is little doubt that straw could become a significant player in the
  building industry. Tremendous quantities of straw are produced in North
  America--over 140 million tons (128 million tonnes) annually , based on
  EBN's calculations. In grain-producing areas it is usually available at
  very low cost. Just how much of that straw could be used without negatively
  affecting soils is unknown--and an important area of research. If we were
  to assume that 25% could be used without harming soils, we would have a
  resource base of about 35 million tons (32 million tonnes) per year. Let's
  take a look at what these quantities of straw could mean for the building
  If we used all of that available straw for the exterior walls of straw-bale
  buildings, 2.7 million 1,000-ft2 (93 m2), single-story houses could be
  built each year. If we turned that straw into structural compressed-straw
  panels, they could provide the exterior walls, roofs, interior partition
  walls, and floors of 1 million 2,000 ft2 (186 m2), two-story houses per
  year. Or, that straw could be used to produce 22 billion ft2 (2.1 billion
  m2) of 3/4" (19 mm) particleboard, which is five times the current total
  U.S. production of particleboard and medium-density fiberboard (all
  thicknesses). Clearly, the potential is significant.
  Article #2
  Agripulp: The Agri-pulp newsprint alternative.
  A Paper presented at the Newspaper Association of America Super Conference,
  Miami, Florida, March 6,1996.
  Agri-pulp is papermaking pulp made from agricultural plant fibre which is
  grown on-purpose or is recovered as cropping residues. A limited amount of
  agri-pulp newsprint is presently made in developing countries such as
  Indonesia, India, Mexico and Cuba. Bagasse (sugar cane residue) is the
  principal fibre used.
  What is new?
  There is a renewed interest to use agriculture-based fibres in place of
  wood, for the production of pulp and paper in North America. The
  alternative-fibre option is driven, in part, by the growing shortage of
  commercial wood supply. The shortage of wood supply can be alleviated
  partially by the increased use of waste paper. But ultimately, this
  remedial step will be inadequate to meet the continued demand for quality
  paper products in North America.
  >From an environmental perspective, profitable utilization of straw would
  eliminate the hazardous and polluting practice of stubble burning in
  heavily populated regions such as the Spokane Valley of Eastern Washington
  and the Sacramento Valley of Central California. From a social perspective,
  the usage of agricultural cropping residues (i.e., straw) would provide a
  significant new income for American farmers. For example, if an agri-pulp
  mill purchases straw from Eastern Washington farmers, the net farm income
  could be increased by at least 20%, on a "per acre" basis, even at the
  unusually high price level of wheat today. Ultimately, government subsidies
  to farmers could be reduced expeditiously. And taxes could be reduced for
  all citizens.
  Fibre availability
  Agri-pulp production from agricultural cropping residues appears to be the
  most practical economic means to supplement the fibre needs of the paper
  industry. Unlike on-purpose fibre cropping of kenaf and hemp, agricultural
  cropping residues are readily available. This fibre source is the largest
  single uncommitted fibre supply in North America and is definitely
  renewable in real time. For example, there are over 60 million MT of wheat
  straw available in the United States annually. With careful soil management
  practices, substantial amount of this straw can be used for pulp and paper
  production without any adverse long-term impact on soil structure and
  fertility. The potential production of newsprint-grade pulp from only wheat
  straw is about 36 million MT. For comparison, the total North American
  virgin wood pulp production for newsprint in 1995 was less than 15 million
  Process Technology
  In the case of agricultural cropping residues, e.g., cereal and perennial
  seed grass straw, there is an optimum combination of pulping yield and pulp
  quality. Available data indicate that agri-pulp (cereal straw plus other
  agri-fibres) has the basic physical strengths required for use in newsprint
  production and subsequent paper runnability in the press room.
  Source: Al Wong, based on information from CPPA, TAPPI
  One practicable zero-effluent newsprint manufacturing scheme is shown below:
  There is no relationship between price and cost. There is no guarantee that
  the usage of agri-pulp would provide lower-price newsprint. During the past
  decade, the furnish of North American newsprint has evolved to be based on
  a combination of virgin mechanical wood pulp and deinked post-consumer
  wastepaper. The near-term outlook for softwood fibres in Northern North
  America is a significant deficit of several million tonnes annually. The
  shortage is caused by over-cutting and by re-allocation of forests for
  ecological and recreational uses. The price of wood (chips) will continue
  to rise in the coming years. The following table shows the pricing pattern
  of wood chips and straw in two West
  ern regions of North America.
  Fibre           Region          Late 1987 US$       Late1995 US$
  Wood chips      BC Coast        75-80            100-130
  Wood chips      Pacific NW      85-90            100-130
  Straw           Pacific NW      0-10              10-40
  The availability and pricing of ONP has fluctuated considerably during the
  past few years as a) domestic demand is increased by the additional
  promulgation of "recycled content" mandates, and b) Asian demand is
  increased with the startup of new large-capacity newsprint machines. The
  net effect of the tight supply and high demand for papermaking fibre is
  higher cost of newsprint production. The "creation of a third fibre" source
  would moderate the price increase and price fluctuation of the other two
  newsprint fibres. The substantial cyclic supply-demand of the traditional
  fibres, i.e., wood pulp and ONP can be suppressed.
  For national strategic and economic reasons, the federal and state
  governments should formally allow the interchangeability of agri-pulp and
  post-consumer wastepaper. This intervention does not need any new financial
  support from the governments. The result would be accelerated realization
  of a new agri-pulp paper industry in the United States. As shown below, the
  manufacturing cost of agri-pulp newsprint is estimated to be about 15% less
  than that of conventional newsprint.
  Concluding Remarks
  This is a timely opportunity to develop and implement the manufacture of
  agri-pulp newsprint. There are significant social, environmental and
  economic benefits for all.
  Copyright 1996 by Arbokem Inc. Date: July 6, 1996
  Billy Stern
  PO Box 8251
  Native Forest Network
  Missoula, MT 59807
  PH  (406) 542-7343
  FX  (406) 542-7347
  Billy Stern
  PO Box 8251
  Native Forest Network
  Missoula, MT 59807
  PH  (406) 542-7343
  FX  (406) 542-7347
  Billy Stern
  PO Box 8251
  Native Forest Network
  Missoula, MT 59807
  PH  (406) 542-7343
  FX  (406) 542-7347