By Robert Dalheim – WILLOWS, Calif. – CalPlant has officially launched Eureka – the world’s first commercially-produced, no-added-formaldehyde, rice straw-based MDF. “This is a defining moment for the CalPlant family and the industry as a whole. Decades of work have brought us to this day as we launch Eureka.” said Jerry Uhland, CalPlant founder and CEO. “When the Boyd family and I first set out to find a solution, we never could have imagined it would end in creating the world’s first-ever rice straw-based MDF, and in turn a more sustainable future for our planet.” Eureka is manufactured using post-harvest rice straw, an agricultural waste product, and is engineered to match the performance of traditional wood-based MDF in machinability, paintability and strength, says CalPlant.
CalPlant manufactures Eureka at the company’s $315 million, 276-acre plant site just north of Sacramento. At full capacity, the plant will be able to produce more than 150 million square feet annually (3/4″ basis) and use up 280,000 tons of rice straw. All required fiber is procured from a 25-mile radius of the plant. “This facility is the first of its kind in the world in so many ways,” Uhland said. “Not only will it have a production capacity to supply 30 percent of California’s MDF demand, it will significantly reduce the use of water to flood rice fields in the Sacramento Valley, thereby cutting the production of greenhouse gases. Rice straw is an annually renewable raw material, with all of the material for the plant being procured each year from Sacramento Valley rice growers within a 15- to 25-mile radius of the plant site. Employing a Generation 9 Siempelkamp ContiRollcontinuous press, which is 10 feet wide and 115 feet (35 meters) long, CalPlant employs 140 full-time employees with 450 part-time jobs created during the annual straw-collection period.
The mill produces MDF thicknesses of 2.0 mm to 30 mm. Columbia Forest Products, who is CalPlant’s exclusive sales agent, is an investor in the project and has been an important partner during developmentof the project.