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Ecovon are developing sustainable sourced, newly engineered wood made from coconut husk and sugar cane bagasse that are better for planet


Description

Summary

Ecovon believe that there is a better way of making building materials. That is why we are focusing our energy on completely rethinking and re-designing how the new generation of building materials is made. Ecovon are developing sustainably sourced, newly engineered wood made from coconut husk and sugar cane bagasse, supplying the global market with a formaldehyde-free bio-based wood alternative that are better for people and planet

Ecovon will bring the first non-additive, bio-based, renewable wood product to market which is naturally flame retardant and anti-fungal without added binders (glues). The physical properties
are better than comparable engineered woods on the market currently, all which use additives and heavy chemicals to reach additional flame retardant properties while reducing our CO2
footprint, deforestation and enriching the lives of locals in coconut and sugarcane producing developing countries such as Ghana. The board material has been shown to exhibit excellent
properties, which are comparable with or even superior to commercial wood based panels. Our product is stronger and more durable, priced considerably less, and greener

The project was aimed at establishing the conditions for making high performance, environmentally-safe building and packaging materials from coco coir without the need to use expensive and hazardous synthetic binders like formaldehyde, coco coir contains a lot of lignin which converts into a natural binder once it is hot pressed.

Cococoir is made from fibers and pith of coconut husk. The board is manufactured without using any synthetic binder such as the expensive and hazardous urea formaldehyde.
Cococoir’s high lignin content converts into natural binder once hot-pressed.

 

 


Is this proposal for a practice or a project?

Project


What actions do you propose?

Ecovon will bring the first non-additive, bio-based, renewable wood product to market which is naturally flame retardant and anti-fungal without added binders (glues). The physical properties
are better than comparable engineered woods on the market currently, all which use additives and heavy chemicals to reach additional flame retardant properties while reducing our CO2
footprint, deforestation and enriching the lives of locals in coconut and sugarcane producing developing countries such as Ghana. The board material has been shown to exhibit excellent
properties, which are comparable with or even superior to commercial wood based panels. Our product is stronger and more durable, priced considerably less, and greener

The coconut husk is composed of coir fibre and pith, which have to be separated for traditional fibre applications in woven carpets, ropes, brushes and matting. This can be achieved by retting
procedures or mechanical decortications. The residual pith, however, contains a large amount of lignin, which has been demonstrated to act as a thermosetting binder resin for the coir fibres.
The basic principles of the resulting process from the performed detailed investigations on coconut husk processing are as follows:
After separation from the coconut, the husk is refined to small particles and short fibres using asimple opening technique by dry hammer milling, yielding suitable material for conversion into boards by hot pressing (scheme 1). After drying to moisture contents below 12% the milled husk material is evenly spread in the mould/press plate and compressed at high pressure and temperature.
The obtained boards show very good mechanical properties (strength of 50 MPa and stiffness of5 GPa) comparable to those of commercial MDF and by far surpassing those of particle board- 15 - (strength of 15 MPa and stiffness of 3 GPa). The thickness swelling and water absorption of the coconut husk board is lower than for MDF. After immersion in water, the coconut husk binder less boards show mechanical properties that surpass those of MDF by a factor of two. The density of the coconut husk boards (1.3 – 1.4 g/cm3), however, is higher than for commercial MDF and particleboard (0.8 and 0.7 g/cm3 respectively).
The very good performance of the binder less boards produced in this way opens many possibilities for the development of cheap and strong building materials. In principle 3D= moulded products can be produced as well, which may lead to marketable products such as beams, laminates, cups, trays and pallets or plant pots. Products of varying shapes or moulded parts with lower densities can be produced with proportional lower mechanical properties. Fine tuning of the processing conditions would therefore be required for each end use.

The coconut husk board starts to ignite after 4 minutes, whereas the fire penetrates the board
after 15 minutes. The hardboard, however, ignites within 1 minute and the fire penetrates the
board within 2 minutes. Obviously, the coconut husk board has better fire retarding properties
than commercial medium density fibre board, hardboard and plywood

Hot pressing is the standard procedure for manufacturing fibre boards for building applications.
Commonly, a synthetic resin is applied to glue the fibres. The elevated temperatures and pressure are applied to cure the resin and to compress the fibre mat to the desired density. In this project the intrinsic binding properties of lignin present in the husks has been explored to produce selfgluing or binderless fibre boards.
For the production of binderless boards the coconut husk needs first a mechanical pretreatment – the fibre opening or „milling process?. In the next step the material is pre-dried to achieve the desired dry matter content after which it can be compressed and cured in a hot pressing step.
During the pressing process high temperatures are applied to melt the lignous adhesive present in the husk and to initiate and facilitate the endothermic cross-linking reaction of the binder that behave similar as thermosetting resins in board production. Pressure is applied to obtain a desired density and smooth surfaces of the board materials

Various fibre opening processes have been evaluated as pre-treatment of coconut husk material in board production processing. For the production of homogeneous board materials it is essential that the fibre material can be distributed evenly in the pressing mould or in the fibre mat on the screen. Therefore refining to smaller particles is required. Of the methods dry milling of the husk was selected as the cheapest and most simple and effective method. Other methods such as steam-explosion or extrusion-refining require more energy and higher investment in equipment. Moreover, the quality of the produced boards was lower, than as obtain by dry milling.
After dehusking of the coconuts the husks were milled in a cutting mill with mesh size of 2.5 and 8 mm, respectively. The throughput and energy consumption were determined. The normalized energy consumption per ton of husk was calculated. The particle size distribution of the milled husks was determined.

Conventional hot pressing of fibre boards is a batch-wise process and commonly very robust.
The technique comprises the compression of a (resinated) fibre sample between two heated mould halves, either flat platens or 3D moulds. For commercial board production, typical values for the applied temperature and pressure lie around 150°C and 40 bar. Conditions found in literature for similar binder less board production processes of other lignocellulosic materials report temperatures in the range of 125–230°C and pressures of 42–400 bar.
Alternatively, hot pressing of flat board materials can be performed continuously as well, using a so called double belt press. Investment for these more advanced processing lines, however, is
considerably higher and the achievable maximum pressure is lower and therefore not considered
suitable for this product-market combination.

Based from the analysis of data gathered, the binder less coir board has a bright prospect of penetrating several industries and markets, namely, the construction, furniture, commodities export, coffin/casket production and individual consumers. With the depletion of forest reserves, the future production of plywood shall be reduced, thus the potential of the binder less coir board is further enhanced

 


Who will take these actions?

Coconut Sellers Association of Ghana
The coconut sellers are the most important partners of Ecovon because they provides us with needed raw materials thus coconut husk for production of our fibreboards. Most of the coconut sellers put the waste generated from the selling of coconut in to sacks making it easy for transport by our collectors
Adansonia Project
Adansonia provides Ecovon with hands-on training and connects us with investors for funding. Adansonia primary goal is to build connections between entrepreneurs in the African continent, both within and across country borders. Being part of the Ghanaian face-to-face group, Mr. Isaac and Ecovon has taken part in our series of four (4) workshops with entrepreneurs from the area of Accra and other parts of Ghana
Environmental Protection Agency
They provides Ecovon with technical assistance and training


Where will these actions be taken?

Ecovon will bring the first non-additive, bio-based, renewable wood product to market which is
naturally flame retardant and anti-fungal without added binders (glues). The physical properties are better than comparable engineered woods on the market currently, all which use additives and heavy chemicals to reach additional flame retardant properties while reducing our CO2 footprint, deforestation and enriching the lives of locals in coconut and sugarcane producing developing countries such as Ghana. The board material has been shown to exhibit excellent
properties, which are comparable with or even superior to commercial wood based panels. Our product is stronger and more durable, priced considerably less, and greener

Ecovon will generate wealth and employment/jobs for individuals in rural and urban areas of Ghana at the initial stages of the value chain, mostly youth and women, who will collect, sort and clean coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse for production. By the 3rd year of operation, Ecovon aims to create 100 direct and over 500 indirect jobs. The company aim to create a “new wood” industry from coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse creating value-add for the poorest rural farmers (Bottom of the pyramid) while reducing CO2 emissions and deforestation. Ecovon will also produce cheap alternative building materials for low income earners and poor rural farmers in the country.


In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.

Ghana


Country 2

No country selected


Country 3

No country selected


Country 4

No country selected


Country 5

No country selected


Impact/Benefits


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

Ecovon Plan for coming three years is to withdraw over 2 million kilograms of coconut husk and bagasse from the environment and use them to manufacture fibreboards and save an estimated 500 acres of forest (based on calculations by the Canadian Forestry Association). Coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse recycling also saves 2.5 kg CO2/kg coconut husk and bagasse hence we will be preventing 2,500,000 kg of CO2 emissions further mitigating climate change.

Based from the analysis of data gathered, the binder less coir board has a bright prospect of penetrating several industries and markets, namely, the construction, furniture, commodities export, coffin/casket production and individual consumers. With the depletion of forest reserves, the future production of plywood shall be reduced, thus the potential of the binder less coir board is further enhanced.

The coconut husk board starts to ignite after 4 minutes, whereas the fire penetrates the board after 15 minutes. The hardboard, however, ignites within 1 minute and the fire penetrates the board within 2 minutes. Obviously, the coconut husk board has better fire retarding properties
than commercial medium density fibre board, hardboard and plywood. Ecovon will produce sustainably sourced, newly engineered wood made from coconut husk and sugar cane bagasse, supplying the global market with a formaldehyde-free bio-based wood alternative. The activity of the company to create a “new wood” industry from coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse creating value-add for the poorest rural farmers (Bottom of the pyramid) will reduce CO2 emissions and deforestation
The obtained boards show very good mechanical properties (strength of 50 MPa and stiffness of5 GPa) comparable to those of commercial MDF and by far surpassing those of particle board- 15 - (strength of 15 MPa and stiffness of 3 GPa). The thickness swelling and water absorption of the coconut husk board is lower than for MDF. After immersion in water, the coconut husk binder less boards show mechanical properties that surpass those of MDF by a factor of two. The density of the coconut husk boards (1.3 – 1.4 g/cm3), however, is higher than for commercial MDF and particleboard (0.8 and 0.7 g/cm3 respectively).

The company aim to create a “new wood” industry from coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse creating value-add for the poorest rural farmers (Bottom of the pyramid) while reducing CO2 emissions and deforestation. Ecovon will also produce cheap alternative building materials for low income earners and poor rural farmers in the country


What are other key benefits?

Ecovon will generate wealth and employment/jobs for individuals in rural and urban areas of Ghana at the initial stages of the value chain, mostly youth and women, who will collect, sort and clean coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse for production. By the 3rd year of operation, Ecovon aims to create 100 direct and over 500 indirect jobs. The company aim to create a “new wood” industry from coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse creating value-add for the poorest rural farmers (Bottom of the pyramid) while reducing CO2 emissions and deforestation. Ecovon will also produce cheap alternative building materials for low income earners and poor rural farmers in the country.

Ecovon Plan for coming three years is to withdraw over 2 million kilograms of coconut husk and bagasse from the environment and use them to manufacture fibreboards and save an estimated 500 acres of forest (based on calculations by the Canadian Forestry Association). Coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse recycling also saves 2.5 kg CO2/kg coconut husk and bagasse hence we will be preventing 2,500,000 kg of CO2 emissions further mitigating climate change.

Ecovon hope to turn 99% of coconut and bagasse waste generated in the country in to wealth and also provide cheap alternative building materials for low income earners in Ghana. Ecovon has reduce the burden on coconut sellers by collecting the waste generated from their operations and the cost they would have incurred disposing off their waste


Costs/Challenges


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

Ecovon is at seed stage and it needs an amount of $10,000 to start small scale production. This amount of investment will enable Ecovon to start production and also assist Ecovon to cover the time between first costs and revenue from sales. Ecovon will need and an investment of $100,000- $200,000 during its commercialization stage


Timeline

Ecovon will generate wealth and employment/jobs for individuals in rural and urban areas of Ghana at the initial stages of the value chain, mostly youth and women, who will collect, sort and clean coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse for production. By the 3rd year of operation, Ecovon aims to create 100 direct and over 500 indirect jobs. The company aim to create a “new wood” industry from coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse creating value-add for the poorest rural farmers (Bottom of the pyramid) while reducing CO2 emissions and deforestation. Ecovon will also produce cheap alternative building materials for low income earners and poor rural farmers in the country.

Ecovon Plan for coming three years is to withdraw over 2 million kilograms of coconut husk and bagasse from the environment and use them to manufacture fibreboards and save an estimated 500 acres of forest (based on calculations by the Canadian Forestry Association). Coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse recycling also saves 2.5 kg CO2/kg coconut husk and bagasse hence we will be preventing 2,500,000 kg of CO2 emissions further mitigating climate change


About the author(s)

My name is Brenya Isaac, 27 year old from Ghana and I hold BSc Development Planning from University for Development Studies, Ghana. I am green entrepreneur who runs a startup called Ecovon in Ghana. I have passion for the environment and am always desire to protect and preserve the environment and our forest by helping co-green entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas to get their dreams realized. As a green entrepreneur I have participated and have been finalist in many green competitions including Switch Africa Green Starter 2016, Adansonia project 2016, Ghana climate innovation center and Seed Awards 2017. I was part of 49 candidates in Africa to be shortlisted from 350 submissions to the SAG-SEED Awards 2017; I was also a finalist in the selection process of green innovators in 2017 by Ghana climate innovation center.


Related Proposals


References

Carolin Ehrensperger
Enterprise Support Advisor
carolin.ehrensperger@seed.uno
SEED – Promoting Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development
6 October 2016
To whom it may concern:
Reference Letter for Ecovon
Brenya Isaac and Osei Foster of Ecovon particapted in the first SWITCH Africa Green – SEED Starter Months in Accra, Ghana, from 14-16 July and 5-6 August 2016. Their team was one of 15 teams selected out of 59 applications. The selection was based on the effort put into identifying first customers for their product, the innovativeness of the solution, and the strong triple bottom line impacts. From the beginning they stood out with one of the strongest applications and continued to show tremendous drive during the Starter Months.
During both workshops and a TEST phase between the workshops Benya Isaac and Osei Foster were extremely motivated to take their idea forward. They took great efforts to identify their market, develop a logo and slogan for their enterprise, and work on their business model. During the TEST Phase they undertook interviews with wood sellers and carpenters to gain more insights on their potential customers. The insights were then used to refine their business idea.
We wish them the best of success for developing their business idea further, and also invite their applications for follow-up programmes offered by SEED.
If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me. You can also find more information on the Starter Months at www.seed.uno/support/starter.
Kind regards,
Carolin Ehrensperger

To whom it may concern,
This is to certify that Mr. Isaac Brenya has been participating to Adansonia 2016, the Bocconi
University program aimed at fostering innovative business ideas across Africa. As one of our
Ghanaian enrolees, Mr. Isaac has been involved in the activities of the program from September to
December 2016.
, Mr. Isaac has taken
part in our series of four (4) workshops with entrepreneurs from the area of Accra and other parts of
Ghana. These were held at Impact Hub Accra, Otswe Street. During these meetings, Mr. Isaac had
the chance to network with fellows and discuss his business model, with the objective of learning
from others’ experiences and achieve significant improvements in the development of Ecovon.
Having been the facilitator during all these meetings, I mus
I was not surprised to learn that, after submitting his written business model canvass at the end of the program, Mr. Isaac and Ecovon resulted among the top-rated businesses of the 2016 wave. In particular, this means being in the top 50 out of around 450 businesses based on Adansonia Quality Score. The Score is a combination of 5 variables that have been taken into account by Adansonia partner investors when carrying out their evaluations: innovation, feasibility, market potential, scalability

Massimo Pulejo
Research Assistant
The Adansonia Project
massimo.max22@hotmail.it
+393392392241