US Startup Makes Building Materials Out of Fast-Growing Grasses to Capture More Carbon Than Trees

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A startup looking to find better ways to mass-produce lumber for construction has swapped trees for grass.

It turns out that with sophisticated laminating and molding machines, the fibers of certain grass species can be just as strong as wood, but lighter, and orders of magnitude faster to produce.

Entrepreneur Josh Dorfman founded Plantd with two former SpaceX engineers. Their flagship product is a seemingly-regular pressed wood panel for homebuilding, but one that’s made from a fast-growing species of grass which nevertheless can absorb 30 tons of carbon dioxide via photosynthesis throughout its lifetime.

Capable of being harvested three times in a season, rather than once in 20 years as in the case with pine wood, the potential is there to drastically lower the cost of lumber for homebuilding, and increase the carbon-capture potential of the timber industry.

“We see the greatest opportunity to lock away the most carbon when we make a superior product than what exists today,” Dorfman told Fast Company. “And do it in a way where that end customer can still build exactly the same way… they don’t have to change in any respect.”

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