Charlie Buttrey

February 3, 2023

Occasionally you can find the small bit of good news on the climate change front. Here’s one such tidbit.

A startup looking to find better ways to mass-produce lumber for construction has swapped trees for grass. It turns out that, with sophisticated laminating and molding machines, the fibers of certain grass species can be just as strong as wood, but lighter, and orders of magnitude faster to produce.

The flagship product of the start-up company Plantd (whose website is accessible HERE) is a seemingly-regular pressed wood panel for homebuilding, but one that’s made from a fast-growing species of grass that captures far more carbon per weight than trees.

The grass can be harvested three times in a season, rather than once in 20 years as in the case with pine wood, so it could potentially drastically lower the cost of lumber for homebuilding and, at the same time, increase the carbon-capture potential of the timber industry.

The fibers in grass and wood are chemically similar. The cellulose from the grass is fed into Plantd’s shredding machines in North Carolina before being pressed into any size panels. When counting for the carbon stored in the plant fibers, the manufacturing procedure is carbon-negative, meaning it stores in the product more carbon than it takes to produce the electricity needed to run the machines.

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