The waste conversion process starts by diverting usable raw materials before they enter the traditional waste disposal system in close geographic proximity to ECOR facilities. Raw materials are sorted, graded, pre-processed and stored for deployment based upon the specific fiber mix required for the type of panel scheduled for production.
Raw materials are processed into usable feedstock via a mechanical pulping process using rotating discs and screens of varying specifications to achieve the desired properties for the pulp. The pulp is then dispersed in water in precise quantities and at a close tolerance in order to achieve a controlled chemical reaction.
ECOR technology provides a natural catalyst for chemical changes to occur at the cellular level between cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, proteins and amino acids.
Lignin acts as a natural glue or binder. The second most abundant substance in plants, Lignin increases mechanical strength and is what keeps trees vertical.
With the precise amount of heat and pressure, the amorphous, rubbery nature of lignin and hemicellulose become realigned and cross-bonded onto the more crystalline-like structural portions of the cellulose molecule creating an interlocking, inter-diffusion of fibers.
The physical properties of specific fibers are also important. Longer fibers equate to greater tensile strength, and shorter fibers allow for more flexibility. When specific agricultural fibers are added, the oils, proteins and amino acids can be identified for their specific contribution to the mechanical properties of the panels. These properties are all carefully considered in the selection of the fiber mix.
Testing of hundreds of different fibers in thousands of combinations has been performed in ECOR pilot facilities. The result – the perfect mix for the ECOR-1 panel, the basic building block of all ECOR products. We can now produce panels with consistent specifications using a variety of locally sourced fibers and raw materials.
Custom fiber blends using customers’ waste streams are now commercially viable and potentially available at scale.
Clean, sustainable coatings can be applied to create water and fire resistance while also enhancing the stability of mechanical properties.
Finally, a new step recently added in the fiber dispersion process significantly increases the stability of the panel in recent swell testing when exposed to humidity and water, opening up opportunities for outdoor applications.