Sugarcane rind show promise as building material

Linda Benedict, Bogren, Richard C.  |  1/15/2010 1:55:02 AM

LSU AgCenter researchers recently completed a study that shows promise for the economic feasibility of using sugarcane rind as a supplemental raw material for manufacturing oriented strand board (OSB) and similar products.

Structural wood-based composites such as OSB are gaining increased use in both residential and commercial applica- tions, said Qinglin Wu, the Roy O. Martin Sr. Professor of Composites/Engineered Wood Products in the LSU AgCenter’s School of Renewable Natural Resources. They are widely used as sheathing, flooring and I-joist materials in construction.

With the cost of wood fibers more than doubling in the past 20 years, alternative materials for OSB production are being studied, Wu said.

“The technology is there. Someone would have to invest either in a stand-alone facility or an add-on to a processing facility,” said Richard Vlosky, director of the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Forest Products Development Center.

Wu said a separation facility adjacent to a sugar mill could divide the cane into its various parts, supplying juice to the mill while the rind could be shipped off to be used for OSB.

“The potential is there,” Wu said. “A lot of components can be extracted – though some technical issues have to be worked out.”

Vlosky said a survey indicated growers are looking at alternative uses for sugarcane.
 
“Almost nine out of 10 growers said they would grow sugarcane for rind production if it was more profitable than growing sugarcane for sugar,” Vlosky said. “The product itself is solid from a structural standpoint. A 50-50 combination of sugarcane rind and wood is actually stronger than just wood alone.”

The research was jointly funded by the American Sugar Cane League and Louisiana Economic Development.

Rick Bogren

(This article was published in the spring 2005 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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