U.K. start-up MDF Recovery gains patent approval for MDF recycling technology using ohmic heating to break down resins, says recovered wood fiber is of same quality as virgin fiber
December 5, 2011
– MDF Recovery Ltd announces that its novel process for recovering wood fibre from medium density fibreboard (MDF) has been granted UK patent approval.
The MDF recycling technology exploits a technique known as ohmic heating, commonly used in large-scale food manufacturing, which heats the MDF to break down the resins that bind it together. The resultant wood fibre is of the same quality as virgin wood fibre. The company’s patented process is designed to cost-effectively recycle tonnes of MDF on a continuous basis.
C-Tech Innovation, a contract research and engineering firm, helped MDFR to develop the technology at its labs near Chester, using financial support from North West Development Agency grants.
Having proven the concept, MDF Recovery Ltd is seeking funding to design and build a demonstration facility. It then intends to protect its invention and role out its business in territories around the world including Europe, Asia and South America, all of which are heavy users of MDF.
The government-sponsored Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has estimated that over 150,000 tons of waste MDF is generated each year within the UK furniture industry alone. The retail sector is also a big user of MDF, which is commonly used for shop fittings.
The MDF manufacturing sector stands to benefit by maximising yields within its own process and securing a long term supply of high quality fibre at a time when competition for virgin timber is at an all time high. Due to the increase in energy generation from burning biomass, the price of raw materials for the panel board industry is soaring.
Other industries could also benefit from the technology, including thermal insulation manufacture, horticulture and waste management companies, who could use the technology to dispose of commercial and industrial MDF waste streams. Britain disposes an estimated 340,000 tonnes of MDF annually.
MDF Recovery Ltd co-founders, Jim New and Craig Bartlett, have managed to attract significant interest in the technology, with the Sunday Times and Radio 4 both profiling the company and its ambitions. There has been strong support from commercial users of MDF, many of which are seeking a more sustainable disposal option to the current trend toward incineration.