Talon News - Good Local News

BUILDING INNOVATION STARTS AT HOME

 

February 9, 2018

D.Albright, TALON

Local inventor Frank Santoro stands in front of his shop/garage built in 2009 using his proprietary recycled cardboard blocks. PHOTO- TALON STAFF.

"You should have success in your own backyard first and foremost---before anywhere else", said local inventor Frank Santoro. In 2009, this licensed general contractor, built the "first building of its type", a 30 by 50 foot garage/workshop on his property to demonstrate the functionality of his invention. He refers to his, as yet-to-be trademarked product, as "cardboard material", even though two patents are in place---one of them designated for further development.

This new building product is quite amazing! Beyond its unique qualities of being lightweight, virtually fire-resistant, even bulletproof, it can be formed in any size or shape. He played a video clearly demonstrating that his waste cellulose masonry blocks will not support a flame---only discoloring occurs---when directly torched.

His workshop walls have no extra insulation, just a stuccoed exterior and plaster on the interior. They were reinforced with rebar and a minimal amount of concrete. He estimates the workshop kept 38,000 pounds of waste out of landfills, so "ecologically this thing hits a grand slam", he asserts. The paper/cardboard he used for his shop came from a regional cardboard re-manufacturing company. Approval for its use from local building code officials was no problem.

Inspiration for this building material began in 1997 when Santoro faced finanicial stress. Given his extensive experience in the oil field, plus commercial and residential construction and---simply put---environmental awareness. Frank began to experiment. Observing the excessive waste and inefficiency, along with a keen appreciation for the value of recycling and conservation, he knew his idea had a sensible foundation. "Unfortunately today, some people literally have no choice but to live in a cardboard box---so this idea came from knowing that I could do something better with cardboard and paper waste. There's no reason why this waste material couldn't be used for a better way of life", he asserts. He knew cardboard and paper waste could function in a practical way as a primary component for a building material.

Farmington engineer, Gary Graham wrote in 2010, "The blocks were rigid and it was easy to visualize their use as load-bearing components. They proved to be nailable with no split-out. From the prototype building, we have discovered that there are no signs of distress as far as spalling or cracking of surfaces. Interior building temperatures have been consistent during the winter with only limited use of heaters to maintain comfort between daytime and nighttime temperatures. With just passive energy from the sun, interior temperatures can be maintained at over 50 degrees with no extra heat.

Of his creation, Santoro said, "there's chemistry to it---and I'm looking to improve it all the time". Understandably, the formulation, is proprietary as development and refinement proceeds. But prior to patenting, extensive testing and documentation was done by Los Alamos and Sandia Labs, as well as New Mexico Mining and Technology, who's analytics continue. "Los Alamos described this block as adobe blocks on steroids", he said, regarding its energy absorption and slow release characteristics. They exhibit both high R and U values. Regarding the patent process, he said, "It took about five years and was very expensive".

Among the numerous possible applications, its inventor mentioned safety barriers on bridges and an energy-absorbing feature for vital infrastructure/buildings to minimize damage and "loss of life" in bombing attacks. He believes potential revenue streams are phenomenal and is undeterred by the lack of interest from local investors and cooperation from peripheral industries, such as waste disposal corporations. Waste Management, who ships their cardboard out of the region and sells it for reprocessing, "ignored my request for any help or involvement with my invention". In the realm of recycling and environmental responsibility, he said, "I find people talk about it more than actually do it".

D. Albright, TALON

Local inventor Frank Santoro stands in front of his shop/garage built in 2009 using his proprietary recycled cardboard blocks. PHOTO- TALON STAFF

Notwithstanding certain frustrations, Mr. Santoro remains confident that his product has true merit and tremendous potential. "I don't think it gets any better than this---for God's sake---we're taking a product out of the waste stream", and turning waste into an important product. He says, "this is green that doesn't have to cost more." The product was showcased at a 2017 Trade Show in Albuquerque and, Frank said, "The Japanese picked up on it pretty quick...but domestically, change is tough".

An earnest entrepreneur, Frank is resolute about bringing his product to fruition---wherever that may be, no matter what it takes. He'd love to partner-up, establish manufacturing and create much-needed jobs here in San Juan County. He's willing to put his patents "on the table" and allow monetary rewards to develop in due time. The mission of F.S. Enterprises is to get this innovative, environmentally-wise product to the marketplace.

 

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