Roberto Castelblanco GARCIA,
Av. Apoquindo 4775, of 703, Las Condes.
Las Condes, Santiago, Chile.
PLANTA PRODUCTIVA - Cotiza con nosotros
Bio bio, Los Ángeles, Chile.
Parcela 3, Sector Los Copihues, Duqueco, Los Angeles, Chile.
Eco-Friendly Insulation Offers Thermal
Performance, Sound Absorption and Fire Resistance at the Same
by José Tomás Franco
With the aim of promoting more efficient ways to isolate and
protect building envelopes, the Chilean team Rootman has developed
Thermoroot; a biodegradable and 100% natural insulation made from
roots without genetic modifications or chemical additives. These
roots make up what the company is calling a Radicular Mattress
which, in addition to thermally and acoustically insulating the
walls, floors, and ceilings of buildings, it is fire resistant.
Manufacturing this mattress takes between 10 to 15 days and is
developed inside isolated chambers, where the hydroponic
cultivation of oat or barley grain seeds is produced, using trays
that define the required thickness of the roots. This germination
process can be carried out in any climate and geographical
location, leaving a low ecological footprint by presenting minimum
energy and water requirements.
In terms of fire resistance, its application in the envelope of a
building gives its inhabitants a margin of 1 hour to leave the
rooms before being consumed completely.
"The polystyrene takes three seconds to burn, the fiberglass takes
15 seconds and the polyurethane 1 minute. The radicular mattress,
on the other hand, only begins to burn after 60 minutes of
exposing itself to the flames", say its creators.
The product has been patented internationally and can completely
replace conventional insulators such as Expanded Polystyrene,
Polyurethane or Mineral Wool, seeking to become an effective
alternative to high-cost natural insulators, synthetic insulators
derived from petroleum, or other toxic, harmful to the environment
AU2016306723 // CA2994880
Method for obtaining root mass from vegetable seeds and root
mass obtained therefrom
Inventor(s): GARCIA CASTELBLANCO ROBERTO +
The present invention relates to agriculture and, in particular,
to a process for obtaining a root mass from plant seeds which are
subjected to particular conditions of germination in hydroponic
culture, and once germinated, placed in conditions that favor the
development of the root system. The root mass thus obtained can
have multiple industrial applications such as as an alternative
material to wood for thermal and acoustic insulation and
fire-resistant construction. Additionally, during the drying
process of this root mass, it is possible to obtain an extract
with useful properties for pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Today, natural resources are becoming scarcer and more required
goods, which in the long-term means an increase in production
costs of raw materials.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) urges to optimize
the development of natural resources in a sustainable way and to
maximize the obtaining of raw materials (Corvalen C. et al. (2005)
Ecosystems and human well being: health synthesis: a report of the
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment).
A growing technique well known in the prior art that optimizes the
use of soil and water resources are crops without soil or
hydroponic, by which nutrients dissolved in water are supplied to
seeds under appropriate conditions for germination, so that the
development of the whole plant under these conditions is finally
obtained. Among the advantages of this type of culture in
comparison with growth in traditional land it is found the
efficient use of nutrients and other inputs, better pest control
at lower cost, higher production per square meter planting, among
In general industry, it is widely known the commercial value of
the aerial parts of plants. For example, grasses such as oats,
barley, maize and wheat and their derivatives possess great value
for the food industry, and consequently, 2 technological advances
are aimed at increasing the development of these.
However, there is little knowledge about using roots of these
plants. To date, its primary use is as animal fodder, as stated in
the "Technical Manual: Green Forage Hydroponic" developed by the
Regional Office of FAO for Latin America and the Caribbean, 2001,
in which the obtaining of plant biomass from germination of
cereals or legumes seeds is taught. To do this, pre-germinated
seeds are sown in trays, that is to say, seeds that have been
soaked and aired; and then irrigated with water and nutrients for
12 to 14 days to obtain an approximately 30 cm forage with
abundant leaves and stems.
A highly innovative alternative to the use of these roots, is as
raw material for construction materials. The International patent
application PCT/CL2009/000017 discloses a pressed sheet produced
from a root mattress obtained from a seed hydroponic culture and
an adhesive. This root mattress is essentially obtained by
germinating seeds until the leaf component thereof reaches 10 cm
height, point at which said leaf component is cut to a 1 -1.5 cm
height, allowing it to reach 10 cm height again, to cut it back to
the height previously mentioned. With this process, the preferred
production of the root system over the leaf system is achieved,
thus obtaining a root mass which, when drained and dehydrated,
allows the obtaining of a support material able to be mixed with
an adhesive and then pressed to produce a material that can
replace wood, useful in manufacture of panels, boards, planks,
The procedure described above is preferentially used for obtaining
root mass from grass seeds germinated in hydroponic conditions.
Unfortunately, this method is not efficient in terms of the aerial
mass produced, nor the use of resources, since leaves and stems
produced must be cut and removed, generating a subsequent loss of
resources and time. Therefore, it is required a more efficient
methodology for roots production, avoiding unnecessary loss of
material and maintaining a high production of mass root, and not
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a process for obtaining root
mass from plant seeds, which is based on germinating seeds in a
hydroponic culture under appropriate conditions; once germinated,
these seedlings are flipped to expose 3 their roots apically,
which remain in that position under certain conditions, and
finally the root mass thus obtained is collected.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the appropriate
conditions to germinate seeds consist of soaking and keeping them
soaked between 16 and 24 hours at a temperature between 10 and 18
degrees Celsius. Seeds are then aerated in dark conditions for 24
to 48 hours, keeping the temperature between 10 and 18 degrees
Celsius with daily watering.
Once the seeds are germinated under the conditions above
mentioned, seedlings are flipped so that their roots become
exposed apically, keeping them in that position for three to four
days, at a temperature between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius and in
dark conditions. Root mass thus obtained is collected and
optionally subjected to a water removal process, which can be
draining, centrifuging, or pressing the root mass and finally
In addition to the root mass obtained by the inventive process,
which can be used as support material as a substitute for wood
material with construction purposes of different types, the
invention also includes the extract of said mass obtained during
the water removal process to which it is subjected.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention is described with reference to the accompanying
drawings, in which:
Figure 1 is a representation of the steps in the process of
obtaining a root mass.
Figure 2 is a view of multiple panels that are obtained as
a result of the manufacturing process of the root mass.
Figure 3 is a front view of a panel obtained as a result of
pressing the obtained root mass.
Figure 4 is a graphical representation of the ability of
the pressed sheet of root mass (PSRM) obtained by the invention,
in terms of acoustic absorption compared to materials used in
the art and especially designed for acoustic insulation
Figure 5 is a graphical representation of the ability of
the pressed sheet of root mass (PSRM) obtained by the invention,
in terms of thermal insulation, which is similar to that of the
best insulators used in the art, with a thermal conductivity X =
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a novel method for producing a
high density of roots in hydroponic cultures and a low content of
aerial parts of plants, to create a root mass which can be dried
and then pressed for its use in construction industry, or shaped
to be used in agriculture and garden industries.
Additionally, during the production process of the root mass, a
root extract is obtained, which has skin moisturizing properties
that can be useful for cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.
Figure 1 shows a representation of the stages comprised to obtain
root mass. The method of the present invention comprises in its
broadest scope the steps of: providing seeds 1 of a plant A, allow
germination of seeds 1 in particular hydroponic crop conditions B,
flip the seedlings 2 so that their roots are apically exposed,
keep them in such position under appropriate conditions C and
harvest the root mass 3 obtained by this process D.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, plant seeds 1 used are
those of the Poaceae family (grass seeds), for example, wheat
seeds (Triticum spp.), oats (Avena spp.), corn (Zea spp.), rice
(Oryza spp.), rye (Secale spp.), barley (Hordeum spp.), sorghum
(Sorghum spp.), cane or sugar cane (Saccharum spp.), millet
(species of the Panicoideae subfamily), but the invention is not
limited only to these aforementioned examples.
In a preferred embodiment, the particular conditions of the
hydroponic crop B used in this invention, in which the seeds
germinate, refer to a process to soak seeds B-I under specific
conditions, and aerate seeds in the dark B-II. The specific
conditions of soaking B-I of seeds 1 refer to placing the seeds in
a soaking solution 4 during a period of time depending on the
quality of seeds 1. Preferably, seeds are placed in water as
soaking solution 4 for 16 to 24 hours, at a temperature between 10
and 18 degrees Celsius; however, is not limited to these ranges
since a lower temperature for longer hours can be also used, or a
higher temperature for less time. At this B-I stage, it is
optionally included the use of fertilizers, and it is advisable
but not mandatory, oxygenate or adequately aerate the water or
soaking solution 4. The process B-II to aerate seeds is preferably
done by removing the seeds 1 from soaking solution 4 and allowing
to stand in a dark chamber between 24 to 72 hours, at a
temperature between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius. After obtaining
conditioned seeds 5, these are planted or placed in trays or
strips 6 for hydroponic culture, in a dark chamber at a
temperature between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius, with constant
watering 7. Seeds 5 are kept in these conditions for approximately
3 to 4 days, period of time they take to germinate and spread
their roots and therefore to obtain germinated seeds 2.
Optionally, prior to the soaking process B-I, steps of selection
E, cleaning and disinfection F of seeds 1 can be included to avoid
impurities and thus obtain an even more efficient cultivation.
From different batches or sacks of seeds, small amounts are
randomly selected from each sack, to complete a kilogram of sample
8. This sample 8 is submerged in enough water 9 to cover all seeds
1 and then it is stirred, wherein seeds that can be used for
cultivation (quality seeds) sink, while empty seeds together with
impurities 10 float on the water surface 9. If the amount of empty
seeds and impurities 10 exceeds 20%, the corresponding batch or
bag is rejected 11 and is not used for hydroponic planting. Once
the seeds are selected 12, these can be washed and disinfected F
with an appropriate disinfection solution 13 for 3 to 5 minutes,
and then rinsed with sufficient water to remove disinfection
In a preferred embodiment, after holding the seeds in the
particular hydroponics conditions B previously mentioned during a
period of approximately 3 to 4 days, these seedlings 2 are
flipped, thus exposing their roots upwards, and are maintained
under these conditions for 3 to 4 days at a temperature between 18
degrees Celsius in a dark chamber C. Natural growth of roots in
plants presents a positive geotropism, i.e. roots grow following
the effect of gravity. In the present invention, this natural
behavior is used to promote root growth predominantly over the
aerial portion of the plant, thus achieving a dense root mass 3
that is well interwoven upon itself.
Therefore, once seedlings 2 are flipped and roots that were
growing downwards from the hydroponic trays or strips are exposed
upwards, the roots naturally grow back down (positive geotropism),
generating an interlaced root mass C. This procedure, along with
the cultivation of seeds in constant darkness, prevents the growth
of leaves and stems, and focuses on root growth. Finally, after a
period of six to eight days from seed sowing, a root mass 3 is
obtained ready for harvest D.
In a preferred embodiment, the harvested root mass 3 is drained
through any physical method known in the prior art that allows
elimination of water excess contained. Preferably, it can be
drained by centrifugation or pressing for about 3 to 6 hours. The
root extract obtained in this step, has excellent moisturizing and
emollient properties and can be used by the cosmetic and
pharmaceutical industries for treating skin diseases, such as
eczema, dermatitis, urticaria, pruritus, among others. It relieves
skin irritation caused by allergies and pain caused by heat
exposure, either due to direct sunlight, fire or hot objects. The
composition of this extract will vary slightly depending on seed
species used. Table 1 shows chemical composition of oat root
extract, as an example.
Table 1. Chemical composition of oat root extract.
Chemical properties Composition pH 5,5 - 6,5 Total protein (%) 20
- 40 Phosphorus (P), % 0,35 - 045 Calcium (Ca), % 0,20 - 0,25
Potassium (K), % 0,40 - 0,60 Magnesium (Mg), % 0,20 - 0,30 Sodium
(Na), % 0,06 - 0,01 Sulfur (S), ppm 0,20 - 0,40 Copper (Cu), ppm
10 - 20 Iron (Fe), ppm 150 - 170 7 Manganese (Mn), ppm 60 - 90
Zinc, (Zn), ppm 30 - 50 Aluminum (AI), ppm 70 - 100 Boron, (B),
ppm 3 - 5 Additionally, due to the phosphorus content, seedling
extract acts as a water softener and pH regulator.
Finally, the root mass obtained after drainage of water excess is
dried for storage and distribution. The drying process is
preferably carried out using natural methods by exposing the root
mass to the sun, but any other means for forced drying can be
used, for example by using an oven.
Once the dry root mass is obtained, it can be used as raw material
for making panels for construction industry, given its excellent
thermal and acoustic insulation characteristics. By means of a hot
pressing process and addition of heat-stable adhesives to this dry
root mass obtained by the method of the present invention, panels
can be developed with partial or total replacement of wood for
making root-fiber mass panels (MDF type), root-particles mass
panels (PB type), partial replacement of wooden sheets by root
mass to obtain root mass -plywood boards or root mass -raw
(plywood type) panels, as well as panels alternative to SIP
(Structural Insulated Panel), wherein using the root mass allows
partial substitution of wood and total replacement of expanded
polystyrene, with an insulation capacity 4 times higher than a
polystyrene panel. Panels made with root mass, as well as mixed
panels in which the outer plates are made with wood products, have
an incredibly significant impact on reducing exploitation of
On the other hand, the dry root mass can also be used as a natural
soil improver substrate, when manufactured by the process
described in the present invention, which does not involve the use
of chemicals potentially harmful to growing plants. This root mass
has a high porosity and water retention, and mineral composition
is ideal to support the growth of healthy and vigorous crops.
Furthermore, due to its natural condition, it degrades over time
becoming organic soil of excellent quality.
Production time of this raw material is less than two weeks,
making it a renewable and sustainable substrate. This root mass
can be molded into small bowls or pots and is also an excellent
alternative for replacing materials such as peat or coconut fiber.
The invention will now be illustrated according to the following
examples, whose purpose is purely illustrative and should not be
considered to limiting the scope of the invention in any
Example 1: Obtaining of root mass from a hydroponic culture of
oat seeds Selection of seeds:
Quality of oat seeds was checked and the level of impurities
present was determined. Small amounts of seeds were taken randomly
from different bags to complete a sample of a kilogram of seeds.
Sample was immersed in water, manually stirred, and the number of
empty seeds and impurities which remained floating in the water
was determined. The percentage of impurities was less than 20%, so
the seed bags were suitable for planting purposes.
Disinfection of seeds: Once seeds were selected suitable for
sowing, they were then washed in a solution of bleach (chlorine
10% p/v) for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, seeds were rinsed with water
enough to remove disinfection solution.
Soaking: In a container with oxygen, the disinfected seeds were
immersed in water for 24 hours at a temperature of 15 degrees
Aeration of seeds: Seeds were placed in open containers to be in
contact with atmospheric air, keeping them under dark conditions,
during approximately 36 hours.
Planting and germination: The already conditioned seeds were
placed in trays for planting and moved to a dark room to simulate
conditions of darkness inside the soil. Seeds were kept under
those conditions for 3 days, with one irrigation during this
Flipping: Once seeds were germinated in the tray, seedlings were
flipped, leaving their aerial parts below the tray and exposing
the roots apically or upwards. They were kept in dark conditions
for 3 days at 15 degrees Celsius, with one irrigation during this
period. After this time, the obtained root mass was harvested.
Example 2: Preparation of a pressed sheet of root mass.
From the root mass obtained in Example 1 it was carried out the
water elimination process by means of the following operations:
Drainage: The root mass was drained and allowed to rest about an
hour in a grid to remove water naturally by gravity. Additionally,
it was centrifuged for about 1 minute, whereby another part of
water and non-germinated seeds were eliminated.
Drying: The reticular mass was slowly dried in the sun for about
12 hours to obtain a root mattress with approximately 10%
moisture. Once the drying step finished, this mattress was weighed
Adhesive application: A sufficient amount of adhesive was applied
to the dry root mattress, depending on its weight and / or volume
thereof and / or the manufacturer instructions of the adhesive.
Since the root mattress is a porous body, twice the amount
indicated by the manufacturer per square meter was applied.
The adhesive was applied to the root mattress, ensuring that the
interstices thereof were penetrated the best way possible. To this
purpose, the mattress with the adhesive was pressed in a cold
press for no more than 2 minutes in order to promote the
penetration of the adhesive into the mattress. Then, the sheet
obtained was pressed with a hot press at a temperature of 50 0 C
for at least 2 minutes and allowed to stand in the cold press for
stabilization, during at least 5 days.
After completion of the process, a root mattress pressed sheet was
obtained, visually very similar to plywood with a thickness of
about 4 mm. The product obtained was worked according to the
desired dimensions and is useful as a substitute for wood in the
manufacture of wood panels or products with a similar base.
Example 3. Using the pressed sheet obtained from the root mass
as acoustic and thermal insulating material.
The pressed sheet obtained from the produced root mass (PSRM) from
the previous example exhibited excellent characteristics such as
thermal and acoustic insulation. It is 100% natural,
biodegradable, renewable, fast to produce, fire resistant, and
also demonstrated a superior or equal thermal capacity when
compared to those used in the industry, produced mainly from
petroleum. Since the mattress is thermally more efficient, the
same properties as similar products in the market were obtained,
but with the advantage of having a much inferior thickness, which
substantially facilitates and economizes transfer and storage.
Acoustic absorption coefficient (a) of sheet obtained by the
method of the invention was determined according to standard ISO
10354-2:1998: "Acoustics Determination of sound absorption
coefficient and impedance in impedance tubes - Part 2:
Transfer-function method". The measurement of the absorption
characteristics at normal incidence on the sample is based on
measurements in a plane wave tube to obtain the transfer function:
2 0 H=1 H 1 2 x e j2kL wherein, H12: Transfer Function, k: wave
number (m- 1), s: distance between microphones (m), L: impedance
tube length (m).
The test was performed following the procedure of the reference
Two positions of microphone were defined: speaker was set at one
end of the tube and the test sample at the opposite end. The sound
signal used for the test was white noise and it was measured by
1/3 octave bands, registering the central 11 frequencies between
125 and 1000 Hz. The area of the test sample was 0.3 m2, at an
internal temperature of impedance tube of 19 degrees Celsius.
Table 2 shows the results obtained regarding the sound absorption
of said material as an object of the invention compared with other
known and used for the same purpose. Figure 4 shows a graphical
representation of the results shown in Table 2. The materials used
for this analysis were: empty wooden wall, unpainted bricks,
gypsum board, wood, 0.5 cm thick rubber, brick plaster, rigid
polyurethane foam FONAC@ (PUR foam - FONAC@), Polyurethane foam
SONEX@ (PUR foam - SONEX@), Root Mass Standard 2012, corresponding
to the material disclosed in international patent application No.
PCT/CL2009/000017 (MR-STD-2012), root mass of the present
invention mixed with polyurethane (PUR-2015-MR), and root mass of
the present invention (MR-2015).
Figure 4 shows a graphical representation wherein the dotted line
represents the limit value of materials considered best insulators
in the market today. These results show that the root mass object
of the present invention has an acoustic capacity able to compete
with recent insulator materials in the art, specially designed for
acoustic insulation applications, such as SONEX@ and FONAC
Table 2. Comparative data of sound absorption coefficient (a)
for different materials.
Material 125 Hz 250 Hz 500 Hz 1.000 Hz Empty wooden wall 0,071
0,07 0,073 0,08 Unpainted brick 0,03 0,03 0,03 0,04 Gypsum board
0,29 0,1 0,05 0,04 Wood 0,15 0,11 0,1 0,07 0.5 cm thick rubber
0,04 0,04 0,08 0,12 Brick wall with plaster 0,013 0,015 0,02 0,03
PUR foam - FONAC* 0,11 0,14 0,36 0,82 PUR foam - SONEX* 0,06 0,2
0,45 0,71 12 MR - 2012 0,6 0,89 0,28 0,18 MR - PUR - 2015 n.d.
0,46 0,76 0,36 MR - 2015 n.d. 0,34 0,23 0,47 To determine the
thermal insulation, the thermal conductivity of the root mass
obtained by the present invention was measured and compared with
materials known in the industry. The guard ring method was used,
according to the procedure described in the Chilean norm NCH
Of.2008 850 "Thermal insulation Determination of steady-state
thermal conductivity through the guard ring method." The apparatus
used consisted of a central metal plate (hot plate) provided with
electric heating. This plate was surrounded in a frame shape
(guard ring) which can be heated independently. On both sides of
the plates, specimens with equal size and parallel flat faces are
put. Water-cooled metal plates (cold plates) are adjusted to the
specimens. The entire assembly thus constituted forms a sandwich
in intimate contact. This method determines, under stationary
conditions, the heat flux produced electrically in the hot plate,
which crosses both specimens, and the respective temperatures
between their faces. The measuring area equal to the area of the
hot plate, is 0.0255 M2 , specimens dimensions are 0.3 x 0.3 m and
a maximum thickness of 50 mm. Due to the design of the
conductivity meter, the orientation layout of the specimens is
vertical. The thermal conductivity of the material is calculated
according to the formula below:
\2A(T1- T2)) A: thermal conductivity (W/m K), <p: heat flow
through the material (W), A: Measurement area (M 2 ), T1, T2:
average temperatures of hot and cold faces, respectively (K).
Table 3 shows the results concerning the thermal conductivity of
the material of the invention regarding other known and used for
the same purpose.
Figure 5 shows a graphical representation of the results shown in
Table 3. The materials used for this analysis were: aluminum,
steel, brick, wood, glass wool, 13 polystyrene (EPS), rigid
polyurethane (PUR), cork, Mass Root Standard 2012, corresponding
to that disclosed in international patent application No. PCT /
CL2009 / 000017 (MR-STD-2012), root mass of the present invention
mixed with polyurethane (PUR-2015-MR), and root mass of the
present invention (MR-2015).
Figure 4 shows a dotted line representing the limit value of
materials considered best thermal insulators in the market today.
These results show that the root mass object of the present
invention has a thermal insulation capacity similar to the best
insulators, with a A value of 0.04 W/m K, and stands as one of the
insulation materials with highest performance in the market as EPS
Table 3. Comparative data of the thermal conductivity (A) for
different insulating materials.
Thermal conductivity Material W/m K Aluminum 209,3 Steel 47-58
Brick 0,8 Wood 0,13 Glass wool 0,03-0,07 EPS 0,035 - 0,045 Rigid
PUR 0,035 - 0,045 Cork 0,07-0,09 MR - 2012 0,064 MR-PUR 2015 0,042
MR - 2015 0,036
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