CornBoard provides competition for wood-based panels

12 November 2010

Panel products made from corn harvesting waste will become a reality following a new licence agreement between a US company and the University of Illinois.

The agreement with new firm Corn Board Manufacturing Inc (CBMI) will use a corn-based structural composite technology developed by three of the university’s professors.

CBMI will bring “Cornboard” to the marketplace. The product’s manufacturing process involves mixing corn husks and stalks (left over from harvest) with a polymer matrix, then laminating the mixture and applying heat and pressure to produce a finished board which has a similar appearance to OSB.

In contrast to traditional wood-based panels, CornBoard is designed to repurpose an underutilised biomass material.

For every acre of corn grown (more than 86 million acres are grown annually in the US) over 4,000 pounds of corn waste is left in the field. CBMI says just two acres of waste can produce enough CornBoard to provide roof decking, flooring and wall sheathing for a two-storey timber frame house.

If a 10th of corn waste resources were used in this way, then enough CornBoard could be produced for 4.3 million homes.

CBMI says the product can be manufactured in varying densities, allowing for a wide range of applications, such as outdoor furniture, kitchen cabinets, door cores and longboards (a longer version of skateboards).

The company has plans to launch a Zea Home outdoor furniture collection made from 100% CornBoard, with the first item being an Adirondack chair.

CBMI's Adirondack chair made from 100% CornBoard CBMI's Adirondack chair made from 100% CornBoard
The newly developed CornBoard The newly developed CornBoard