Here is an interesting machine that takes waste stalks from hay, corn etc. and outputs these beams that can be used as structural pieces.
Reprinted: Treehugger 9/2009 Trey Framer
StrawJet, of Ashland, Oregon, has developed a unique process for the creation of structural building components from a variety of waste agricultural stalks. Essentially, they have created a machine that takes waste stalks and creates a tightly wrapped beam which can then be applied to many different facets of construction. The cables are made and wrapped without glues, resins or chemicals and are made completely from waste material. As long as we are growing food there will be straw, so why not use it creatively?
Buildings made from straw are beautiful, insulating and can be found all over the world, but they are typically made of straw bales or straw panels. This new application of straw is sure to push the boundaries further and may help with the many bureaucratic issues that come with natural building in areas under the jurisdiction of archaic building codes. StrawJet recently began working with CASBA (California Straw Building Association) and SOAIA (Southern Oregon American Institute of Architects) on interior infill wall applications for homes and commercial spaces and is sure to be a prominent player in the future of straw building.
One major component of StrawJet is that they really are serious about sustainability across the board. One of their first implementations of the technology was in the West African country of Malawi. StrawJet was able to create tobacco drying sheds from waste stalks of the tobacco plants, eliminating the need for the illegal deforestation that has decimated the local forests (to the tune of 33,000 hectares annually).
The use of StrawJet has the potential to curb carbon usage from deforestation by upwards of 10% as well as eliminate the current practice of burning waste stalks. In an area that is so dependent on its natural resources, it is important that environmental problems be addressed responsibly. They have even created a version of their multi-wrapper machine that can be powered by pedal for operation away from the grid.