All About ACRE

by GR Chair

When we were imagining the Bowen Table, we knew we needed something extremely durable for outdoor use. When we discovered ACRE, we were obsessed. Not only did it meet all our needs for durability, but it was also sustainable.

Though it's made without a single tree, you can work with ACRE just like you would work with wood. It's compatible with all the same tools and has a finish ready edge. Plus, it has thermoplastic capabilities, so you can bend or mold it to fit your needs. This blog post is going to break down everything you need to know about this wood-like wonder substance. 

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Where does ACRE come from?

To tell this story, we have to start with rice harvesting. Rice is a semi-aquatic plant that grows to be around three or four feet tall. Farmers plant the seeds and then flood the fields with a few inches of water. When the rice is close to ready for harvest, the water is drained so that combines can come through and gather the grains for drying.

Rice grains grow in inedible shells called hulls. These hulls are tough, but extremely lightweight. One way to separate the hulls from the grains is called winnowing. When there is a breeze, one tosses the rice and hulls into the air from a bowl. The hulls would be blown away, leaving the edible grain to fall straight down and into the container. Large rice growing operations use machines to do this work.

For rice mills, the hulls are waste that might end up in landfills or used as fertilizer. For Modern Mill, the creators of ACRE, the hulls are the perfect substance with which to create a new sustainable building material.

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We can’t give you all the secrets to how ACRE is created, but rice hulls are at the core. The formula does not contain phenol, formaldehyde, or adhesives, and it has a uniform texture throughout. The resulting sheets resemble your standard wood plank. It has a nice warm color, a grainy texture, and a finish ready edge, but the difference is obvious when you lift the sheet. Those rice hulls, so easy to blow away in the wind, make the material super lightweight.

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What are the benefits?

ACRE is compatible with all your standard wood tools. You can use it just like you would use wood. ACRE can be finished, stained, and painted, or you can emboss it or print on it.

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On top of the standard things that wood can do, ACRE also has thermoplastic formability, which means with a little heat, you can flex the material into any shape you need. The possibilities are literally endless with this feature.

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As for durability, this material comes from a semi aquatic plant, so it is completely water resistant. While wood soaks up a ton of water, leading to warping, cracks, and rot, ACRE is unaffected by rain, snow, or spills. UV light won’t hurt it much either, especially when compared to other materials. While many other products fade quickly under UV radiation, ACRE provides holds up.

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And it's SUSTAINABLE?

Produced in a zero-waste facility in Mississippi, ACRE uses material that would otherwise be put into landfills. Scrap material is always put right back into production and finished products can be cleaned and reused. Plus, ACRE doesn’t use any trees, so you know that it isn’t contributing to deforestation.

This technology has been internationally recognized for its innovation. Because of all these environmentally friendly features, ACRE can contribute credits toward LEED certification.

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Okay, now that I’ve told you all that, are you also obsessed? If you want to see a product that uses ACRE, check out the Bowen Outdoor Table collection. We’re super excited to introduce a table that uses this durable, sustainable, and unique material. Click here to read a blog post about Bowen.

Product Design Restaurant Furniture Outdoor Furniture