Development of Structural Building Elements From Oriented Straw Cable

EPA Contract Number: EPD05013
Title: Development of Structural Building Elements From Oriented Straw Cable
Investigators: Ward, David
Small Business: Ashland Prototypes
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2005 through August 31, 2005
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , SBIR - Pollution Prevention


The overall goal of this research project is to develop load-bearing, structural building elements from oriented straw. The production of building elements from surplus straw will help provide low-cost housing in rural areas and reduce greenhouse emissions associated with the production of typical construction materials. The production of building materials free from volatile organic compounds and other toxins will lead to improved health in construction workers and homeowners. A developed market for straw cable building panels also would increase the income of grain farmers.

The specific goals of this research project are to:

  • Characterize material properties through testing and refining of the field manufacturing process.
  • Develop and refine field manufacturing equipment to increase the efficiency, reliability, and consistency in preparation for commercialization.
  • Examine the effects of environmental conditions on the material and determine the environmental impact of structures utilizing the material.
  • Begin to develop design guidelines that will be applicable to straw cable composites.
  • Create a structural panel spanning at least 10 feet, which can support typical roof loads, using results from prior objectives and testing.
  • Design and construct a structure using structural elements of straw cable composites.

Anticipated outcomes include: (1) a defined target market based on the structural and weathering properties of the material; (2) a more precise assessment of cost competitiveness compared to wood and masonry structures; (3) a better understanding of the parameters affecting the strength of the material leading to potential improvements; and (4) a detailed plan for commercialization.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, structural building elements, oriented straw, surplus straw, volatile organic compounds, other toxins, straw cable composites, structural panel, EPA, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Sustainable Environment, waste reduction, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, green design, sustainable development, holistic design, waste minimization, ecological design, environmental conscious construction, green building design, alternative building technology, pollution prevention design, eco-wall systems, straw cable composites, architecture, straw building panels, environmentally conscious design

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final