The company behind a system of recycling MDF into reusable fibre could be 18 months from opening the first plant, but remains stalled over investment, the principals said.

MDF Recovery, the brainchild of two development specialists, was featured in the Sunday Times. It says its technology deals with the issue of separating out chemicals used in MDF by using ohmic heating, which involves passing electricity through the material.

The current is passed through a soup of shredded MDF and water, causing the resins binding the fibre to break down. The recovered material is of virgin fibre quality, the company said.

About 340,000 tonnes of MDF are dumped in Britain a year and the recovered fibre could be used to make a range of products, from panels, to insulation and even compost.

Jim New and co-director Craig Bartlett have won grants to develop the technology, but are now looking for £6m to build a plant to process 30,000 tonnes of fibre a year.

“We’ve got to a place where we’ve proven the technology and done the practical work. Now we need to go to a pilot plant and to a full plant, which we could do in 18 months,” said Mr New.

MDF Recovery has worked with board manufacturers and buyers such as B&Q. “We’ve had a lot of people interested, but the investment world at the moment is against taking risks, even though we can compete very healthily with what is being paid by the manufacturers for fibre,” said Mr New.