Re-engineering wood for a greener future
Materialize.X’s non-toxic bioadhesive is set to transform the engineered wood industry.
Following his graduation from the RCA/Imperial College Innovation Design Engineering double masters course in 2016, Haidin Rashid was invited to display his final project at KI’s offices during London Design Festival. Two years on, he’s back – this time as co-founder of chemistry and data science start-up Materialize.X.
KI: How has Materialize.X developed since we first met in 2016?
Haidin Rashid: utilizing low-cost feedstocks from large industrial sectors to develop a new low cost & non-toxic adhesive, non-toxic, sustainable and biodegradable material. One component of this project was an innovative bioadhesive that we are now taking forward as part of Materialize.X, the startup. Since graduating, I’ve teamed up with Drs Adrien Hitz and Sanjeev Gajjela, and together we have been hard at work entering workshops and competitions, networking, meeting potential partners and generating funding to get our company off the ground. Our vision is to become a global leader in the field of sustainable chemistry and process optimization through continuous innovations and expansion. It has been a life-changing experience so far!
KI: How will your bioadhesive be utilised?
Haidin Rashid: Our aim is to replace conventional toxic urea-formaldehyde adhesive currently used in the engineered wood industry to help make it the most renewable, sustainable building material of the future. But our new bioadhesive is just the first half of the Materialize.X story. By combining chemistry and data science, we are looking to optimise manufacturing processes through machine learning to help manufacturers reduce waste, improve consistency and increase quality when producing MFC and MDF particle boards.
KI: Engineered wood is already well-established material. What kind of response have you had from the industry?
Haidin Rashid: We have been working closely with industrial partners and research institutes to develop and improve the adhesive over the last years. Our recent pilot testing with them has delivered some exciting results. MDF produced with our new adhesive has been tested in industrial laboratories. It has demonstrated strong mechanical properties and is free from formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOC). Based on abundant feedstock that is not derived from a specific crop or animal, our bioadhesive is price-competitive with formaldehyde-based adhesives and significantly cheaper than existing bioadhesives. It is also easily integrated into existing manufacturing plants. It has the required viscosity, so no new processes or equipment would be required by manufacturers. The response has been really promising and we are now in the process of prototyping, scaling up and delivering toxin-free adhesives to our customers. We hope to see become part of our daily lives in the next few years.
KI: How do you see Materialize.X improving our lives in the future?
Haidin Rashid: People are becoming more aware of sustainability and the effect we are having on the health of our planet. We are also talking a lot more these days about the effect our built environment has on our psychological and physical wellbeing. Materialize.X helps address both of these issues at the same time. Optimising the manufacturing process is obviously beneficial for manufacturers of particle boards, but reducing waste this optimisation process is also good for the environment. The bioadhesive present in the particle board would be an invisible ingredient for the layperson, yet it will improve their physical wellbeing by reducing the VOCs in their home, office or school. The particle boards we currently use in furniture and flooring, for example, could be replaced by this new material and help buildings achieve accreditations such as the WELL Standard. What’s more, when a product reaches the end of its lifecycle, it will be easier to dispose of as the bioadhesive is also biodegradable.
Find out more: www.materializex.com