If you spend any time reading about indoor air quality and green building materials, you quickly encounter concerns about particleboard — the pressed wood products that the Environmental Protection Agency says are the most significant source of formaldehyde in homes. Startup e2e Materials, a spinout from Cornell University that according to a regulatory filing has just raised about $3 million of a planned $4.5 million round, has come up with an alternative.
Rather than using wood chips and shavings and an adhesive that contains urea-formaldehyde, e2e produces a similar composite material — lightweight, durable and low-cost — using fast-growing plant fibers like jute, flax and kenaf, along with a resin made from soy proteins. The resulting material can be used for applications such as floors, walls, furniture and vehicle interiors. So far, customers have included the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems, as well as skateboard maker Comet Skateboards.
According to CEO Patrick Govang, e2e Materials’ process requires two-thirds of the energy needed to manufacture conventional particleboard. “We operate at about half the temperature required to produce typical resin-based panels,” he told Green Building Advisor last spring. “We also require none of the OSHA equipment to mitigate fumes. So we use less energy, less material.”
Of course, one of the main selling points for pressed wood products is cost, and e2e Materials claims it can compete on that level, too, by using waste products.
Zachary Shulman, a managing partner in the Ithaca-based firm Cayuga Venture Fund who also lectures on venture capital and entrepreneurship at Cornell, is listed as an investor in today’s filing.