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Plantd Materials creates OSB board alternative from processed grass

[Jan 31, 2023]

North Carolina firm Plantd Materials has developed a material consisting of processed perennial grasses that it says will be lighter and stronger than traditional timber boards while capturing more carbon.

Called Plantd, the material is a "blend of fast-growing perennial grasses" that the company aims to produce as a replacement for a traditional oriented strand board (OSB), a plywood-like material used for sheathing walls and floors.

Plantd Materials created a set of machinery that uses heat and pressure to press shredded grass into panels. It allows the creation of standard four-by-eight-foot (1.2 by 2.4 metre) panels that use about 50 pounds (22.6 kilograms) of grass.

While launching a sustainable furniture startup during the pandemic, serial entrepreneur Josh Dorfman watched as the price of wood skyrocketed. It got harder to find high-quality lumber, and he started wondering what alternative materials might be possible to use.

At the same time, he connected with two former SpaceX engineers who were interested in wood alternatives for another reason: They saw an opportunity to rework construction materials to speed up carbon capture at a large scale. Trees suck up CO2 as they grow, but fast-growing grasses, they realized, can capture even more—and can be made into structural panels that are used to build homes.

"During the pandemic, quality was going down, prices were going up, supply was obviously constrained and I really started thinking a lot more about sustainable materials as an opportunity," said Plantd co-founder Josh Dorfman.

"We had this frame in mind to aspire to gigaton scale carbon capture, to be able to lock something away for 100 years," he told Dezeen, adding that he was inspired to create the product by Xprize's Carbon Removal initiative.