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CalPlant Launches Eureka™, The World’s First Rice Straw-Based MDF

November 19, 2020
3 tractors in a rice field at sunrise

CalPlant Launches Eureka™, The World’s First Rice Straw-Based MDF

WILLOWS, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2020) – CalPlant, a Northern California-based company focused on manufacturing sustainably-sourced building products, announces the official launch of the world’s first no-added-formaldehyde, rice straw-based medium density fiberboard, Eureka™ MDF.

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.

Annually renewable rice straw provides a consistent and abundant pipeline of raw material, and because CalPlant has been constructed in proximity to the straw, all fiber for Eureka MDF will be procured from Sacramento Valley rice growers within an average 25-mile radius of the plant. At full capacity, the operation will produce more than 150 million square feet annually (3/4” basis) and use 280,000 tons of rice straw.

“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.” 

Employing a ContiRoll® Generation 9 Siempelkamp continuous press, which is 10-feet wide and 117 feet long, CalPlant will be staffed by 140 full-time employees with as many as 500 part-time jobs created during the annual straw-collection period. The mill will be able to produce MDF thicknesses of 2.0 mm to 32 mm (0.080” to 1.25″). The state-of-the-art press is currently the only one of its caliber in the United States.

The plant will startup production in November, with Eureka MDF commercially available in 2021. 

Key attributes of Eureka MDF include:

High Performance

Eureka MDF meets the performance of traditional wood MDF with excellent machinability, paintability, and consistency. Its annually renewable fiber source ensures a steady, homogenous supply of Eureka MDF.

Sustainable Production

The 276-acre plant site is strategically located in the Sacramento Valley, which produces 20 percent of the nation’s rice and 1.5 million tons of rice straw every year. All rice straw used to produce Eureka MDF is sourced within an average 25-mile radius of the facility, significantly reducing transportation impacts. And the annual reclamation of 20 percent of the available straw will significantly reduce levels of water that would have been diverted from regional waterways to flood rice fields after harvest. Fewer flooded fields also mean lower methane emissions resulting from the straw’s decomposition over the winter.

Cleaner Air

Eureka MDF represents rice straw’s transformation from a wasted natural byproduct into something of utility, and by using a formaldehyde-free resin system to produce it, Eureka panels don’t negatively impact indoor air. And the plant’s use of rice straw vs. wood fiber reduces overall plant emissions, with comparably sized, wood-based MDF plants producing as much as 20 times more VOCs.

Eureka MDF is an interior, commercial and residential building material used in cabinetry, furniture, moulding and millwork applications.

“Eureka is a game changer. We are able to offer our customers a product that helps them win in the marketplace and improve our environment at the same time,” said Geri Freeman, vice president of sales, marketing and logistics for CalPlant. “Our customers have fueled us along this journey and we can’t wait to see the product in their hands.”

For more information about Eureka MDF, visit EurekaMDF.com.

About CalPlant CalPlant and its predecessor company, CalAg, LLC, have spent many years researching, developing, and patenting a process to make high-quality MDF using annually renewable rice straw as the feedstock, the disposal of which has posed environmental issues in California for decades. It has worked extensively with machinery manufacturer Siempelkamp to develop a facility with production capabilities well-suited to the MDF markets the plant will be serving. CalPlant is the world’s first commercial-scale manufacturer of no-added-formaldehyde, rice straw-based MDF.

Media Contact
Heather Griffith
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