End of December, the final edition of Fiber Club was organized, resulting in an interactive online conversation on elephant grass, patents, and to what extent fibers that did not grow originally in a country should get an active promotion as a new local fiber of tomorrow.
Strong fibers, strong materials
Elephant grass dries on land and grows for 25 years after planting the roots. The biodiversity benefit of the plant lies in the fact that the soil does not need to be disturbed while harvesting the fibers. Christiaan Bock, an expert from Wageningen University, shared his love for the versatile applications possible with these fibers. He stresses the importance of using the fibers as is, with as few processing steps as possible. Not all soil and places are usable for growing the fibers. Preferred land is land that can be used for 25 years in a row. Otherwise, the investment is too high and the yield is too little to cover the startup costs. Designers use miscanthus (which is another name for elephant grass) as both fillers and as visible fibers in materials such as fiberboards for the interior. Suppliers in the Netherlands are Miscanthus Group (around Schiphol), and Miscancell (who also makes grasphalt and bioplastics). Vibers is a BlueCity-based company that has some elephant grass fields and holds several patents in applying the fiber in products. Viber products are bioplastics, 3d print filament, high-end paper and bio concrete. A lot of pioneers in the Netherlands struggle with the fact that the production industry does not want to use elephant grass as fiber in their production process since it is new and they are uncertain what the impact on their machinery is. More attention and elephant grass available as fast fibers that capture Co2 are the way forward.
Yara Ruby for the great visual summary she created from our talk. Follow her work via @yara_ruby or visit her website. And of course our partners of the Fiber Club to make it financially possible: Gemeente Rotterdam and Stimuleringsfonds voor Creatieve Industrie.