Big Names Build Up with Recycled Product: Google, Whole Foods, and More Using ECOR

Green Building and Design Magazine recently featured an article on ECOR, a green building product developed in cooperation with the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), and its growing popularity among some big name companies.

According to the article, “early adopters of ECOR include Google, Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, Whole Foods, Starbucks, 20th Century Fox, Gensler, TOMS, and the list goes on.”

ECOR® gives architects and designers the freedom to create shapes and forms that would be impossible with traditional materials. Photo credit: JR Delia Photography

ECOR® gives architects and designers the freedom to create shapes and forms that would be impossible with traditional materials. Photo credit: JR Delia Photography

ECOR is made from 100 percent recycled material and is durable, 100 percent recyclable, and completely free of toxins. It is a design-friendly, high-performance composite material with a broad range of applications.

Most days you can find ECOR being produced right here at FPL (by Noble employees and under the terms of a specific agreement) while a larger ECOR production facility is under construction.

ECOR was previously featured on the USDA blog when the material was used to produce the first 100 percent sustainable studio set in Hollywood.

Lights, Camera, Action! Discover Wisconsin Films at FPL

A film crew from Discover Wisconsin, a television program showcasing the many treasures of the Badger State, visited the Forest Products Laboratory this week as part of their America’s Dairyland series.  This series takes a look at Wisconsin’s largest and most important industry, the dairy industry.

A film crew from Discover Wisconsin interviews FPL engineer John Hunt.

A film crew from Discover Wisconsin interviews FPL engineer John Hunt, far right.

So, what does this have to do with forest products?

A key component of the dairy industry is, well, cows. And cows produce a lot of milk, but they also produce a lot of waste. That’s right, good old fashioned manure. FPL engineer John Hunt has found a way to make composite panels from cow manure mixed with other materials, such as recycled paper or cardboard.

As you can see, the Discover Wisconsin crew dug right in, getting down and dirty with this research project.

Discover Wisconsin host Eric Paulsen isn't afraid to get his hands dirty.

Discover Wisconsin host Eric Paulsen isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

But it’s really not so bad. The manure Hunt uses has gone through a process called anaerobic digestion, in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. The process reduces the manure to raw fiber (and produces energy as seen in this USDA video) which is not unlike other natural fibers used in composite products.

The resulting product is strong, lightweight, recyclable, biodegradable, and incredibly versatile. A similar panel product (sans manure) has found considerable success through FPL partner Noble Environmental Technologies (NET). NET produces a recycled panel product based on Hunt’s research called ECOR, which was recently touted for its use in building the first 100% sustainable Hollywood studio set.

We here at FPL had a great time with the Discover Wisconsin crew, and are excited to see the results. The episode is scheduled to air in June, so stay tuned…

 

Cradle to Cradle Innovation Challenge Recognizes FPL-Developed Product

“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress,
working together is success.”
– Henry Ford

Noble Environmental Technologies (NET), a long-time partner of the USDA’s Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), was recently recognized in the Cradle to Cradle Innovation Challenge featuring the next generation in green building materials.

The company placed third amongst 144 applicants competing to create a building product that is safe, healthy, affordable, effective, and designed to be returned safely to nature or industry after use. The winning product, ECOR®, was developed in cooperation with FPL.

ECOR® gives architects and designers the freedom to create shapes and forms that would be impossible with traditional materials. Photo credit: JR Delia Photography

ECOR® gives architects and designers the freedom to create shapes and forms that would be impossible with traditional materials. Photo credit: JR Delia Photography

“Partnering with the researchers and inventors of the USDA’s Forest Products Laboratory to develop ECOR® has yielded unlimited opportunities,” said Robert Noble, CEO and Founder of Noble Environmental Technologies. “The partnership has garnered the issuance of a patent, many published articles, and an exclusive license agreement.”

FPL’s ongoing partnership with NET is an excellent example of how public research initiatives can benefit from collaboration by creating a gateway to get research results into the hands of the public.

“Partnering with industry, universities, and other organizations is very rewarding, as it brings the creative talents of multidisciplinary teams together and more rapidly moves new technologies into use,” says Ted Wegner, FPL Assistant Director. “Innovative partners such as NET excel at bringing creative new technologies and solutions to the marketplace.”

ECOR® is a revolutionary design material that is 100% non-toxic, 100% recycled and recyclable, USDA certified 100% bio-based and Cradle to Cradle certified.  The material is manufactured through a clean technology conversion process that transforms virtually any natural cellulose fiber into high density, compressed molded fiber panels.

Almost Famous FPL Research Heads to Hollywood

FPL research led to the creation of Hollywood’s first 100 percent sustainable studio set.

FPL research led to the creation of Hollywood’s first 100 percent sustainable studio set.

Hollywood’s first 100 percent sustainable studio set was created for 20th Century Fox’s  comedy series “Raising Hope” thanks to the efforts of the Forest Products Laboratory and NOBLE Environmental Technologies (NET).

The set was created using ECOR, a strong, light-weight bio-based panel.

The set was created using ECOR, a strong, light-weight bio-based panel.

Much of the set was created using ECOR®, a strong, light-weight bio-based panel that was developed through the collaborative efforts of FPL and NET. The project is also featured on the USDA Blog.

A recent San Diego KUSI-TV morning show segment also featured ECOR® technology. Bob Noble, founder of NET, talks about how his company partnered with USDA to develop a valuable, sustainable product that promotes job growth in the San Diego area.

Bob Noble, founder of NET.

Bob Noble, founder of NET.

(Advertisements do not imply endorsement.)

Long-standing Partnership Continues to Benefit Consumers

Research at the FPL aims to improve forest health while boosting the economy and improving quality of life for the public. Developing products that are commercially viable helps meet that goal, but getting new technologies into the marketplace can be challenging. Often, creating partnerships with private companies helps to move newly developed products out of the laboratory and into the hands of the people who can benefit from them.

Noble Environmental Technologies (NET, San Diego, Calif.), a leading sustainable materials developer and manufacturer, has had a long and successful partnership with FPL. Recently, NET announced its exclusive license to commercialize technology based on two patents that were filed jointly with FPL.

NET and FPL previously partnered under a cooperative agreement that resulted in the development of three-dimensional engineered molded fiber (3dEMF). NET named the new manufacturing technology and resulting products “ECOR® Advanced Environmental Composites.”

“This license agreement is another milestone in our long-standing collaboration with the FPL, where environmentally superior fiber-based structural technologies have been a focus for decades,” says NET Founder and CEO and ECOR® inventor Robert Noble. “Many industries and markets worldwide will now have access to a large variety of design-versatile, nontoxic, 100% recycled content, 100% biobased products for an almost infinite variety of market and product needs.”

John Hunt, Research General Engineer at FPL, has worked closely with NET and is pleased with the outcome. “The collaboration between the FPL and NET is a perfect example of how government and industry can work together to meet society’s needs,” says Hunt. “By combining our unique capabilities, we were able to turn research results into tangible products—products that bring improved options to consumers and promote the sustainable use of resources, all while creating jobs and contributing to the economy.”

ECOR products provide solutions to designers and architects searching for materials which are versatile and can provide imaginative design opportunities. Extraordinary characteristics, including environmental sustainability, distinctive shaping, compound curves, and significant strength-to-weight ratios make ECOR unique. The product can be used in countless applications ranging from furniture, interior architecture and decor, signage and displays, automotive, aviation, marine, rail, industrial and manufacturing, military/logistics and consumer products.

Dr. James Torti, NET’s President remarks, “Fiber resources and underutilized raw material sources are ubiquitous worldwide. NET’s work with FPL provides the platform for utilizing the widest array of raw materials to provide significant economic and environmentally sustainable opportunities within farm, forest, and urban redevelopment locations. We are proud to be moving together to the next level of commercialization of these great technologies.”

# # #

By Rebecca M. Wallace, FPL Public Affairs Specialist