Anton Ianakiev, Hooi Cheah and Anthony Crabbe

Innovation

Researchers make hard building material from paper

22 July 2014 | By GCR Staff | 0 Comments

The writing could be on the wall for chipboard now that UK researchers claim to have invented a tough, water-resistant building material from shredded paper.

It’s fire and water resistant and as strong as medium-density fibreboard (MDF), say researchers at Nottingham Trent University.

It can also be moulded into a variety of shapes.

The study, led by Dr Anton Ianakiev, of the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, and Dr Anthony Crabbe, of School of Art & Design, worked with a mixture of long strands of shredded paper and a sodium silicate gluing agent, which protects against flame and moisture.

The two materials are mixed at a ratio of 80% paper and 20% sodium silicate and then compressed at high pressures and at a temperature of 90°C.

The material is made from long strands of shredded paper and a sodium silicate gluing agent, which protects against flame and moisture

The researchers say the resulting material is affordable, quick to manufacture and can be moulded into various shapes, including structural panels. They settled on a ribbed pattern that increased its load-bearing capacity. Anthony Crabbe said it performed better than chipboard in strength and versatility.

“Recycled waste paper really could become an important future material for the construction industry as it is a more sustainable way of reprocessing waste paper than recycling it,” said postgraduate researcher, Hooi Cheah.

“It’s very important that the materials of tomorrow are designed to be as sustainable as possible,” said Anton Ianakiev, a senior lecturer in civil engineering, adding that it would be “very appealing” to the construction industry.