Business Times

Durra compressed paddy straw panels as building material

Blending Sri Lanka’s ancient rural traditions with today’s trends, 100 % natural Durra panels made out of paddy straw will soon flood the Sri Lankan market, after three years of it’s slow and steady progress.
An ambitious awareness campaign on the eco-friendly product has been launched with the aim of popularising cost effective and innovative technology which has been introduced to expedite building construction work in Sri Lanka, officials of the manufacturing company, Durra Building Systems (Pvt) Ltd, said.

The Durra board, a unique solid building panel manufactured from densely compressed paddy straw using extreme pressure and heat in the manufacturing process, aims at reducing the time, effort and cost of house building, they added. Durra boards have been introduced to the market as an alternative building material due to the scarcity of cement, sand, timber and bricks.

Teaming up with Ortech Industries (Pvt) Ltd in Australia, Durra Building Systems (Pvt) Ltd ,a fully owned subsidiary of International Construction Consortium Limited is geared with the latest tools of technology and enhanced construction techniques to bring about the product with a fine finish. Durra has a proven 40 year track record in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Philippines and Indonesia, officials said.

The Durra boards can be used for internal dry wall partitions, half wall partitions, floor, desks, walkable ceilings, acoustic walls and sound rooms, ceilings suspended or concealed, fire rated walls, kit houses, cabanas and chalets, General Manager Durra Building Systems Gunasiri Abeysinghe said. Durra Board is 100 % eco friendly with no chemicals involved and can be used for density heat environment, sound reduction, punch resistance and thermal insulation, and, most importantly the water does not get absorbed.

A house made out of Durra board
lasts 30 years, he said. He noted that an 850 square feet house can be made at a cost of Rs.1.78 million at the rate of Rs. 2,100 panel per square foot. Mr. Abeysinghe revealed that a building or housing construction could be completed using Durra panels, with minimum of unskilled labour. A 65-day construction could be done within seven days, he said.

Business Promotion Manager of the International Construction Consortium Kamal Munasinghe told the Business Times that a 320 square feet temporary building, could be completed with seven unskilled labourers in 10 days.

The panels are fire, thermal and impact resistant and have a lifespan of 30 years, he said. In keeping with tradition and a touch of modern day technology, the Durra Straw Board Manufacturing Plant is located at Minneriya - the hub of the paddy cultivating area in the North Central Province. The paddy straw is sourced direct to the plant providing opportunities to the farmers in the area to boost their income to a desirably higher level, he said. Around 2,000 tonnes of straw is being purchased from farmers in the Polonnaruwa district at Rs. 4,000 a tonne, he said.

Durra panels which are 58mm thick are used in the construction of walls. No additional framework is required, and it is easy for construction and also time saving. The kit houses are manufactured by Durra for dormitories, schools and project offices. The latest production of Durra is a single and two bed room guest houses. These can be constructed on ground or on an elevated level, he said.

Explaining the manufacturing process, he said, "The straw is fed into the machine and compressed, and then is passed through heated plates for bonding. No glue or bonding agent is added. Craft paper is pasted on either side of the panel and cut into lengths of 8, 9, and 10 feet. It is manufactured in thicknesses of 50mm and 58mm and a width of 4 feet". At present around 2000 tons of paddy straw is purchased per season from the farmers.

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