Scientists have used shredded paper to produce new material said to be as strong as medium density-fibreboard (MDF).
Researchers at Nottingham Trent University say the product could be developed into a material for walls.
A study led by Dr Anton Ianakiev, below left, of the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, and Dr Anthony Crabbe, right, of School of Art & Design, established a new, rigid composite material which is paper-based but also fire and water resistant.
It is made from a mixture of long strands of shredded paper and a sodium silicate gluing agent, which protects against flame and moisture.
To make it, the two materials are mixed at a ratio of 80% paper and 20% sodium silicate and then compressed at high pressures at 90°c.
The result is a composite material which removes the need to recycle the paper and is affordable, quick to manufacture, competitive against chipboard and MDF and can be moulded into various shapes, including structural panels.
Dr Ianakiev, a senior lecturer in civil engineering, said: “Shredded paper, which is widely available, could become a viable construction material at a potentially low cost.
“The fact that it can be used to make a rigid material that is fire and water resistant will surely make it very appealing to the construction industry.”
Postgraduate researcher Hooi Cheah, centre, who worked on the project, said: “Recycled waste paper really could become an important future material for the construction industry as it is a more sustainable way of reprocessing waste paper than recycling it.”