Published on February 12th, 2007 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg0
Poop Beneath Your Feet: A Good Thing?
Generally not, but that could change if research being conducted by the University of Michigan and the US Department of Agriculture is successful. The task: developing flooring (and other products) from cow poop…. really!
[Researchers] say that fiber from processed and sterilized cow manure could take the place of sawdust in making fiberboard, which is used to make everything from furniture to flooring to store shelves. And the resulting product smells just fine.
The researchers hope it could be part of the solution to the nation’s 1.5-trillion- to 2-trillion pound annual farm waste disposal problem.
Yep, the poop is piling up, and ranchers who once sold it to farmers for fertilizer now find they’ve got more of the smelly stuff than they can sell. Many have turned to methane digesters as a “win-win” solution for waste disposal and energy production, and now researchers are looking at ways to make use of the solid residue that’s left after methane and liquids are extracted. While some of the “digester solids” are used for animal bedding and potting soil, some labs are testing out a fibreboard product that seems to hold up as well, or even better, than its counterpart made from sawdust.
Obviously, there will be an image problem from the outset, and a representative of the Composite Panel Association believes the concept won’t fly. Of course, if the resulting product is marketed as “Poopboard,” he’s probably right. But it’s hard for me to see this as anything more than a marketing issue: if the material is sturdy and attractive, would the manufacturer need to proclaim “Made from Cow Manure?”