A pilot project is getting underway in Cedar Rapids to determine the feasibility of turning wood from flood-damaged homes into fuel.
Marie DeVries, with the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency, says the deconstruction project will involve three homes deemed uninhabitable after the 2008 flood.
Wood from the structures will be run through a chipper. DeVries says the chipper has powerful magnets to pull out any nails and screws. It’s estimated 33 tons of wood from the three homes will be recycled instead of ending up in the landfill. The wood chips will be burned for fuel at a biomass energy plant.
The project will determine if the recycling process can compete will traditional demolition processes in terms of timeliness and cost.
“Our goal is to compete with demolition,” DeVries said. “You can knock a house down in less than a day but you’re not capturing any of the materials. You’re just taking it all to the landfill. So, we’re hoping to figure out some techniques that will allow us to knock down a house in a day…even if it takes a day-and-a-half, we think that’s fairly competitive.”
The City of Cedar Rapids is in the process of demolishing around 1,000 structures damaged by flood waters. The deconstruction pilot project is slated to begin this Friday and be completed by April 1st or 2nd. DeVries says her agency originally planned to do the project last fall, but it was delayed by winter weather.