Metal and concrete corrugated roofs are a ubiquitous feature on homes and shelters worldwide due to their low-cost, but they're really not very good at their job. Both are poor insulators, notoriously prone to leaks and can contain dangerous substances like asbestos ... plus they're not easy to sleep under during a monsoonal downpour. Indian startup ReMaterials reckons it has a better solution with its sustainable, modular roofing system called ModRoof.
ModRoof's panels are manufactured in Ahmedabad, India, from locally-sourced recycled agricultural and packaging waste like cardboard and coconut fibers.
"The manufacturing process is simple: It has a crushing stage, then a mixing stage, then a compression stage, drying stage and waterproofing stage," ReMaterials boss Hasit Ganatra, who works alongside engineering expert Lisa von Rabenau and 9 local staff in India, told Gizmag.
The panels are waterproof, fire-resistant, and quiet when it rains. They are designed to interlock and before having a sealant applied. They have a calculated R-Value of 0.28 Km2/W, Ganatra told us. In practical tests on a hot summer day, this has shown the interior of a house outfitted with a metal roof to have a temperature of 42 °C (107.6 °F), while a comparable ModRoof-equipped home was 36 °C (96 °F).
There's certainly a large potential market for ModRoof, but the trick will be getting it into the hands of those low-income families who need it most. On this note, ReMaterials has partnered with micro finance firms to enable customers to afford the roofs (which would typically take at least two years to pay off).
While the firm didn't give us a price of the roofs, they say that they work out at around 4 to 7 times cheaper than solid concrete roofing (not to be confused with the cheaper corrugated type). ModRoof has a rated lifespan of over 20 years, with only minimal maintenance required.
Plans for the near-future include a prototype roof panel which features integrated solar cells, thus allowing the occupant to power LED lights or charge cell phones, and expanding the business both throughout India and internationally.