Smart city

A sustainable wood substitute to help combat deforestation

  • 31 May
  • 2 min

Last month's IndieBio Demo Day highlighted a number of environmentally-friendly solutions, including biomaterials, designed for use in tomorrow's homes and buildings.

Taking as its starting-point most people's love of the aesthetic aspects of wood, balanced against the alarming phenomenon of deforestation, San Francisco-based startup Lingrove has developed a material based on highly-resistant natural linen fibres and biosourced resins.The product comes in a variety of forms, ranging from natural-looking sculpted wood for three-dimensional pieces to colored 'wooden' panels produced by dying the linen fibres. This environmentally-friendly solution, called Ekoa, is the fruit of a partnership between Blackbird Guitars, a company that makes stringed musical instruments from composite materials, and chemical firm Entropy Resins. The founders of the two companies, Joseph Luttwak and Desi Banatao respectively, first worked together to develop a special line of guitars and ukuleles and then teamed up to found Lingrove. Lingrove was a participant on the 2018 program at IndieBio, a Californian accelerator which specializes in biotech. The material the company produces today is water- and fungus-resistant and resembles wood even in its touch and resonance. Lingrove, which has estimated that 91% of high quality wood has disappeared, has set out to provide a practical, environmentally-friendly solution to companies that use wood in their manufacturing processes. The co-founders say that "CO2 negative materials are poised to replace wood on a grand scale". Their product has already provided the raw material for armchairs, fishing rods, and paddles, and going forward the designers are planning to make skateboards, bicycle frames and car interiors. These developments raise the question as to whether tomorrow’s environmentally-friendly homes will be made of this kind of advanced-type material, and whether the Smart City will succeed in making the best use of nature.

By Marie-Eléonore Noiré