University of Colorado Denver (CU) professor and architect Julee Herdt, in collaboration with John Hunt of the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), and Kellen Schauermann, architect, CU alumnus and research assistant, recently received a patent for environmental construction materials.
The patent includes software and material science for converting 100 percent waste fibers, such as post-consumer wastepaper, agriculture residues, flowers, hemp, wood scraps, noxious weeds, dead trees, and other unwanted cellulose, into high-strength construction boards. Using the technology, these dense yet lightweight and strong boards are bent and flexed into a virtually limitless array of shapes, from flat to complex, for making energy-efficient, non-off-gassing building materials, and buildings. The software also allows for associated manufacturing, economic, and recycling scenarios to be studied while the waste fiber eco-products are being designed.
Herdt named the technology “BioSIPs” and has been applying and testing BioSIPs inventions in award-winning eco-case study buildings. Her main BioSIPs invention is a strong and lightweight, structural insulated wall, floor, and roof panel (SIP) system that has a unique, 3-D load-bearing core. Constructing a typical 2,400 square foot U.S. home using BioSIPs products could convert 10,950 pounds, or 5.48 tons, of low-value waste into high-performance products.
Professor Herdt and John Hunt, who is a retired Research General Engineer from the USDA FPL, continue to develop their ideas and inventions. They are currently working to increase fire and water resistance, as well as material strengths, so that their inventions stay ahead of emerging construction needs due to climate change. Their work is helping to define new and better standards for construction.
“Materials must be developed as reactive and responsive to environmental changes. It’s not enough to simply use the products that exist, what can be purchased off-the-shelf, since many existing building materials contribute to energy inefficiency and pollution generation,” says Herdt.
Herdt is planning to apply several of the latest material inventions in a small-scale home design to be built in Boulder next spring. The design includes wall, floors and roofs made from an array of high strength, water and fire-resistant waste fiber panels, as well as an invention for use with steel shipping container construction. Following testing and analysis, BioSIPs, Inc. will commercialize the steel container panels as the first product to market. Herdt believes this case study home will help show the world better, cleaner, sounder ways to build.
Follow this link for more information and a video on Herdt’s work transforming trash into building materials.