MMH.20.006 – WASTE TO WOOD: a new bio-material for the construction industry

Route: Materials - Made in Holland

Cluster question: 010 How can we use new materials, technologies, and processes to lower the cost of buildings and infrastructure and make them safer and more sustainable?

The construction industry seeks products from renewable and recyclable materials with sustainable construction processes. Focusing on building elements, this research will develop a 3D printing method for a novel material from pure wood components like lignin and cellulose, which will be obtained from the local Dutch agricultural and forestry biomass side streams and residues. Waste and by-products from the Dutch agriculture and forestry are massive. Natural biopolymers can be isolated from agricultural and forestry biomass, using the outstanding Dutch knowledge and facilities in bioprocessing. Biopolymers and specifically cellulose and lignin have been proposed in combination with other materials, to compose bio-composites such as reinforced concrete (Ma et al. 2020) and 3D printed composites (Zhang et al. 2019, Tanase-Opedal et al. 2019) or 3D printed materials with additive binders (Henke and Treml, 2013), shifting lignin from being a waste product to a raw material (Yu and Kim, 2020). However, little research regards the potentials of pure biopolymers such as cellulose and lignin for the construction industry. In the construction industry, 3D printing enables the production of complex building elements from digital models, with little need for formworks, post-processing and assembling. It allows including inner cavities, reinforcements, and graded densities sustainably using material only where needed. Combining 3D printing with biopolymers from side streams is extremely promising to impact the sustainability of the building environment. Few studies show the potential of lignin to enhance structural properties of 3D printing materials (Yu and Kim, 2020), but only preliminary studies regard 3D printing pure lignin and cellulose (Giachini et al. 2020; Liebrand, 2018), yet showing promising results. This research will develop the new 3D printed bio-material and its 3D printing process targeting the requirements of the building industry. The research includes testing the new material from samples to prototypes.


3D printing, biopolymers, construction industry, lignin

Other organisations

Arup, MVRDV, Sorba, Wageningen Research (WUR) - Wageningen Food & Biobased Research


Organisation Delft University of Technology (TUD)
Name Dr. M. (Michela) Turrin