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Siempelkamp: Annual plants as an alternative for the wood-based panel industry

Forests and trees fulfil important climate functions: They absorb CO2 gases, control water cycles and prevent soil erosion. All over the world, forest stands are threatened by climate change – which accelerates climate change.  One of the keys for preventing climate change is to preserve as many forest resources as possible on our planet.

However, as a renewable raw material, wood is still characterized by many positive and thus highly demanded properties; its applications are correspondingly diverse. Whether in the construction or furniture industry, as a packaging material, in paper production or heat generation: wood is indispensable in many of our areas of life and industries.   

Wood-based panel producers are therefore facing far-reaching change processes: What does the board of the future look like, thinking ahead to the challenges posed by limited resources and climate protection? To what extent do annual plants make alternatives accessible? Siempelkamp, established as a family-owned company in the wood-based panel industry for many decades, has been committed to the sustainable and efficient use of resources in the wood-based panel industry for a long time. With its research and development efforts, the technology supplier headquartered in Krefeld, Germany aims to make waste materials from agriculture and industry usable as raw materials and thus bring them to a new, sustainable use for wood-based panel production that meets market requirements.

One example is the use of rice straw and other annual plants as raw material for panel production. Over five hundred million tons of rice straw are produced as a side product of rice cultivation. The value-added use of rice straw opens up new perspectives for a raw material that is otherwise burned as a waste product. The concept is also attractive for countries that do not have sufficient wood resources that would be needed for an industrial scale. The technology is easily transferable to wheat straw of which 800 million tons are produced annually and available as raw material. 

Whether wood or annual plants such as bamboo, wheat straw, or rice straw: the quality of the boards made from these raw materials is almost equivalent. Siempelkamp dedicated its research and development to the challenge of adapting the production process of classic wood-based panel production to the alternative raw materials. As a result, the company succeeded in shaping this process without any loss of quality and with the same investment requirements as when using wood as a raw material – a groundbreaking success.

In the USA and Egypt, customers trust Siempelkamp’s visionary expertise in this new area: CalPlant I, LLC ordered a production line for fiberboards made of rice straw for the use of annual plants in June 2017. This milestone project realizes the economic use of a raw material that would otherwise remain unused as a waste product. In November 2020, Siempelkamp sold a second MDF plant for the processing of rice straw to Egypt; the plant operator plans to use its new developments worldwide. This method of utilizing agricultural waste materials instead of wood would be ideal for use in countries such as Vietnam, India and Nigeria, which have high populations and limited resources at the same time. Inquiries for the processing of different raw materials also reach Siempelkamp from India, Australia, and Poland; large wood-based material producers from China, Indonesia, and Bangladesh are also interesting as potential markets.

Siempelkamp cooperates with various specialized universities in order to substantiate its future-oriented concepts with scientific findings – new paths in the field of research and development are also pursued together with plant operators in different regions. 

Over time customers will supplement or replace classic products and production methods in favour of new, resource-saving processes depending on the supply of raw materials and the market situation in their region. For Siempelkamp as a family-owned company, social and ecological responsibility as well as the well-being of future generations are very important. In this way, the company fulfils its commitment to sustainability and securing the future.


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