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Wood fiber insulation may help shuttered paper mills

The Lake States look toward Maine’s model

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin forest products leaders are considering manufacturing wood fiber insulation to help the shuttered paper mills in the Lake States. Maine, another state looking to make use of its excess wood fiber, will serve as a model as it is about to begin construction on its own rehabilitation plan.

GO Lab Inc., an entrepreneurial company, plans to begin rehabilitation work at the former Madison, Maine, paper mill to create North America’s first wood fiber insulation plant. GO Lab plans to begin sales of loose fill insulation, wood fiber batt and insulating board products in 2023.

GO Lab Inc. is being financed by equity sales, a $250,000 grant from the USFS, a $750,000 Emerging Technology Grant from the Maine Technology Institute and $85 million in green bonds to be issued through the Finance Authority of Maine, according to the Bangor (Maine) Daily News.

Maine has suffered from disruptions to its forest products markets similar to those that have occurred in the Lake States from the decline in general printing paper demand. The Madison, Maine, mill closed in 2016. The phenomenon worsened recently in Wisconsin with the closure of the Verso mill in Wisconsin Rapids and the Park Falls Paper mill. Another Verso mill in Duluth, Minn., is being converted to make tissue paper with local and state government support.

A GO Lab Inc. announcement of the new venture said: “For over two decades, European manufacturers have been producing a new generation of wood fiber insulation to meet the increasing demands of the construction industry abroad.”

Through its Timber HP brand, it will offer “comprehensive insulation solutions for wood-framed buildings that are affordable, easy and safe to install.”

In its product description, GO Lab said: “TimberHP Insulation delivers layers of performance (as to fire safety). Non-toxic flame retardant provides Class A flame spread (ASTM E84 Standard) for Batt and Fill Board. Products available without flame retardant offer Class B flame spread (ASTM E84 Standard).”

Two European companies sell wood fiber insulation products in North America: Gutex of Gutenberg, Germany, and Beton Wood of San Fiorentino, Italy. Beton Wood products assert similar fire retardant properties as the GO Lab products (ASTM E84).

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