InventWood®, an innovator of cellulosic material technologies, announces has been awarded $20 million by the U.S. Department of Energy through their Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) SCALEUP grant for the company’s MettleWood® material.
MettleWood is an extremely strong yet lightweight cladding product that will not only reduce the use of carbon-intensive materials but enable buildings to store massive amounts of carbon in the form of wood. It is desirable for its durability, attractive aesthetic and affordability. MettleWood is 60% stronger, 80% lighter, approximately 50% less expensive and far more sustainable than some of the most commonly used forms of steel.
“The generous grant from the ARPA-E SCALEUP allows InventWood to address some of the world’s most intractable environmental challenges,” said InventWood CEO Josh Cable. “We’re incredibly grateful for ARPA-E’s support for us to not only transform building materials but also revolutionize a range of applications across industries.”
The SCALEUP grant will help InventWood fund a pilot production facility capable of producing one million square feet of MettleWood boards per year. InventWood will then optimize MettleWood’s physical properties and quantify its carbon impact for its first application as exterior cladding before completing all necessary commercialization activities for a successful product launch.
ARPA-E advances nascent high-potential, high-impact energy technologies. The agency offers a variety of grants and other programs to bring new technologies to market and focuses on technologies that are typically too premature for private-sector investment. ARPA-E empowers America’s energy researchers with funding, technical assistance and market readiness. Their Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP) program builds on ARPA-E’s primary research and development focus to support the scaling of high-risk and potentially disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications.
InventWood first plans to commercialize a MettleWood cladding product that will enable wood to be used in high-rise buildings in ways previously not thought possible. “Traditionally, one of the main obstacles to using wood cladding in tall buildings has to do with fire resistance,” Cable said. “Because of its density, MettleWood is highly fire resistant and even self-extinguishing. As a result, we believe MettleWood can achieve the Class A fire rating needed to overcome this challenge.”
After deployment as a cladding solution, MettleWood can be adapted easily to other applications in the building environment. This includes structural beams, columns and connections that will ultimately result in reductions of over one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions per year. As such, it represents one of the few technologies with the potential to reduce steel and cement consumption and their associated carbon footprints.
“The future of advanced cellulose-based building materials is extremely promising, and InventWood and its technologies are uniquely positioned to capture this opportunity,” Cable said. “We can’t wait to bring these materials to the world!”