A project in Europe aims to convert urban and agricultural waste into high-performance products for the construction sector.
These materials will be developed within the framework of INNOBITE (Innovative Biocomposites), a European Commission FP7 collaborative project co-participated by several research centres and European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including the UK’s Exergy.
According to a statement, the research, led by Spain’s Tecnalia, is based on two ideas: the revalorisation of the inorganic fraction of wheat straw and the production of cellulose nanofibres out of recycled paper.
Once isolated, these two compounds will become high-performance additives in new polymeric composites.
The two most abundant fractions of wheat straw — lignin and cellulose — will become, respectively, polymeric matrix and reinforcing material.
The new composite materials will be validated by designing and developing dividing panels for compartmentalisation and profiles for decking and fencing.
These new products will be evaluated against appropriate resistance and durability standard tests to guarantee compliance with minimum technical standards and endorsing its launch to market.
They will also be subjected to biodegradability trials, aiming to highlight the environmental benefits over current solutions.
Both the products and the production processes developed throughout the project will be evaluated, respectively, with Life Cycle Analysis and Environmental Technology Verification.
The knowledge developed within the INNOBITE project is expected to generate new business opportunities for existing industries in the construction sector, allowing them to diversify into new markets. It will also promote the creation of new companies, models and business areas.