Product Review

MDF Made from Rice Straw

In California, rice straw is replacing wood as a raw material in medium- and high-density fiberboards while making use of an agricultural waste product.

Agricultural fiber (agfiber) boards made from wheat straw seem like a great idea. They replace wood—a valuable commodity—with a waste product from agricultural production. In the late 1990s, these wheat straw-based panels found a brief market niche for use as a particleboard replacement in cabinetry, but manufacturing challenges, costs, and panel quality problems led to the eventual closing of the Dow BioProducts facility in 2005 and brought mainstream agfiber board production to a halt. The annual waste from millions of bushels of wheat in the U.S. and Canada was not enough to make these products viable.

In the fall of 2019, a new agfiber panel manufacturing facility is starting up in the rice-growing district near Willows California. CalPlant 1 will use waste straw from the local rice harvest to create formaldehyde-free medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and high-density fiberboard (HDF). These low-carbon, low-emitting panels are better for the environment, have better performance, and could be a game changer in the interior panel industry.

Published September 9, 2019