While some may look at cows as sources of meat, dairy, or leather, researchers at Michigan State University have found a more sustainable (and abundant!), yet equally useful bovine by-product: you guessed it, manure. Surprisingly, the material, when sterilized, is entirely odorless and offers some wonderful characteristics for the production of a variety of fiberboard building materials. The manure essentially replaces the role of sawdust in the production of particle boards, which would cut wood usage as well as posing a creative solution to the huge problem of agricultural waste disposal (1.5 to 2 TRILLION tons of you-know-what per year!)
The Michigan State experts say that the cowpies’ fibers are even stronger and more self-binding than their wooden counterparts. Who knew such a stinky and (rightfully) overlooked material could be so useful! Now that’s what we call “green.”
While we love the idea of using cow manure as the basic ingredient, we do have some concerns about the continued use of chemical resins as the binding agent. We’d love to see some alternative ideas so that the end product might be as green as possible. On the plus side, due to the sheer abundance of the raw materials, costs of production are literally dirt-cheap. The Michigan State researchers are currently continuing their research and development of the cow manure fiberboards thanks to a grant from the Michigan Biomass Energy Program.