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First CalPlant set to produce rice straw MDF


CalPlant I, a $315 million production plant in Willows, Calif. that will make MDF paneling out of rice straw, is on target to begin production this fall, according to plant managers.

Construction of the manufacturing facility was 80 percent complete by July, with an inventory of more than 200,000 tons of rice straw in storage for the first run of panels, which should roll off the line this November. CalPlant CEO Jerry Uhland says the facility is a first of its kind in many ways.

“Not only will it have a production capacity to supply 30 percent of California’s MDF demand, it will significantly reduce the use of water to flood rice fields in the Sacramento Valley, thereby cutting the production of greenhouse gases,” he says, referring to the current method of decomposing the straw after its annual harvest.

“Those aspects, along with the tremendous direct and indirect benefits the plant operations will bring to the Willows area, make this a legacy project for Glenn County and the state of California.”

CalPlant will be the world’s first commercial-scale producer of no-added-formaldehyde, rice straw-based MDF, and at design capacity, the plant will produce more than 140 million sq. ft. annually.

Employing a Generation 9 Siempelkamp ContiRoll continuous press, which is 10’ wide and 115’ long, CalPlant will be staffed by 115 full-time employees with 450 part-timers during the annual straw-collection period. It will produce panels from 2 to 30mm.

Columbia Forest Products is CalPlant’s exclusive sales agent and an investor in the project.

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This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue.

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