USA - When construction is completed in the 3Q-2019, CalPlant I will be the world’s first commercial-scale producer of rice straw-based medium density fiberboard (MDF), annually supplying approximately 140 million square feet of no-added-formaldehyde MDF to the building products industry.
CalPlant I and its predecessor company CalAg LLC have spent many years researching, developing and patenting a process to make high quality MDF using annually renewable rice straw as the feedstock, the disposal of which has posed environmental issues in California for over a century. Rice straw is an agricultural waste product of the annual harvest, and all furnish for the plant will be procured from Sacramento Valley rice growers within a 15- to 25-mile radius of the plant site in Willows, California.
Currently, the most common practice of straw disposal is to initiate a decomposition process by flooding the fields after harvest. This practice uses a large volume of incremental amounts of water. By processing rice straw into MDF, CalPlant I will significantly reduce the levels of water that would have been diverted from regional waterways to flood rice fields after harvest.
German Siempelkamp, a global leader of composite panel manufacturing technology, is the equipment designer, manufacturer and installation supervisor during plant construction. The plant will include a Generation 9 Siempelkamp press 10 feet wide and 115 feet long (35 meters). Designed capacity is approximately 140 million square feet on a ¾” basis. The board’s thickness offer will range between 2 mm to 30 mm.
In order to market its MDF, CalPlant I signed in August 2018 an agreement with Columbia Forest Products, an early investor in this project, where the later will be the exclusive sales agent.
“CalPlant I will manufacture high-performance MDF with an extremely consistent pipeline of raw materials,” said Jerry Uhland, CEO CalPlant I. “Like wood, rice straw is a cellulosic material, and our MDF will offer all the same performance characteristics as conventional, wood-based MDF.”
Columbia President and CEO Brad Thompson said regarding the sales agreement, “The CalPlant I partnership will enable us to diversify Columbia’s product lines and create new, complementary sources of revenue. And its environmental characteristics are completely aligned with Columbia’s longstanding commitment to sustainability.”