Pine Beetle Wood Spurs Innovation

A host of new products – like the promising building material beetlecrete – emerge from B.C.'s pine-beetle-killed expanses of forest.

It pours like concrete, it cuts like wood and it’s all thanks to the mountain pine beetle. Beetlecrete, developed by graduate students at the University of Northern B.C., combines blue flakes of beetle-killed wood with Portland cement to form a marbled material with the strength of concrete, but the look and feel of wood. “You can nail into it, you can screw into it and you can cut it with normal woodworking tools,” says Ian Hartley, dean of the school’s graduate programs.

According to Beetlecrete’s Prince George-based marketing team, the substance could soon be making anything from sidewalks to park benches to seismic-friendly houses in China. “We’re making use of wood we have far too much of,” says marketing head Alex Ng.