The quest for construction materials with low environmental impact is leading product developers to new pastures. Literally, in the case of Noble Environmental Technologies Corporation, whose ECORE line of bio-based panels are made from cow poop. American farms produce an estimated 2 trillion pounds of manure each year (comparable stats for Middle East ranchers not readily available).
The smartest way to turn a buck is to convert a problem into a solution that gets you paid both coming and going: get paid to collect a waste (or buy it at deep discount over alternative raw material), and then convert that waste into a resale product.
Methane and nitrous oxide, major greenhouse gases (GHG), are offshoots from livestock manure. Linking manure to a reuse that economically satisfies a developing market need is the best pairing of disparate elements since the invention of the peanut butter cup.
This company’s line of wall boards and panels are made from a blend of cellulose sources including plant fiber, recycled cardboard, old newsprint, and a not-so-secret ingredient: bovine processed fibers (BPFs). BPFs are fibers leftover from anaerobic digestion tanks used to harvest methane from cow manure. This secondary waste product (from the primary manure waste) contains lignin and proteins that make it prime feedstock for a variety of bio-based applications.
BPFs and other cellulose fibers can be blended with water into a sludge that’s formable in molds bespoke to each end product, using low energy processing techniques. ECOR® panels can be painted, veneered, and laminated or used as a sandwich core for added structure to construct furniture and cabinetry. It can be molded into almost limitless shapes and used as interior surface finishes, signs, displays and decorations.
Watch their snappy video to better understand the manufacturing potential of the stuff:
These highly versatile, three-dimensional engineered molded fiber (3dEMF) panel products are ideally manufactured near the source of low-cost and underutilized raw materials.
Manure is a waste product readily available throughout the developing world: the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has a strong animal population. The livestock sector, specifically sheep, goats and camels, plays an important role in national economies, and the poultry sector is growing exponentially.
Animal waste is also a valuable source of nutrients and renewable energy (biogas) on a community level, however, most of the waste is collected in lagoons or left to decompose in open air, presenting sizable environmental hazard.
If a larger market for BPFs is created, sale of manure could someday represent a supplemental revenue stream for farmers. Potentially a triple-bottom-line darling: establishing processing plants close to manure sources would create jobs, expand availability of the green building material, and be part of a larger strategy to reduce GHG emissions. Calling all investors: contact Noble Environmental Technologies Corporation for consultation or partnership in opening MENA’s first poop panel factory.
Image of a cow pie by Shutterstock