Papercrete: An Introduction

  • Posted on: 28 October 2009
  • By: ashok

What is papercrete?

Papercrete is a structural/ road building material recycling waste with properties that are a mix of wood and concrete.

Familiarity with paper, for most of us, obscures the fact that it is mostly wood fibre. Wood fibre and chips have significant strength, a fact that is daily attested by the wood board and particle board that we use and sit upon. To gain the strength, the wood fibres need to be bonded together by some adhesive. In case of papercrete that adhesive is cement. An alternative glue is lime but which not being considered in these phases as it is not a locally available material in the area of operation.

Look at concrete as an economical admixture of cement and stone aggregate. In concrete replace the stone aggregate with wood fibre (which are available from a wide variety of sources such as old newsprint, magazines, office waste paper, cardboard, corrugated sheets, straw, rice husk etc) and you have papercrete.

Papercrete is also known as fidobe, fibrecrete, padobe etc.It was first patented in USA in 1928 but for next 50 years did not move into mainstream usage. In 1980 two Americans Eric Patterson and Mike McCain independently invented mixers (tow mixers) that allowed papercrete to be made quite easily and started a revival of the material.