Serious Materials’ Elegant Process Greens Gypsum Drywall


Serious Materials is a Silicon Valley company that makes sustainable building materials.  Serious Materials’ new EcoRock drywall is one of the greenest building materials on the market.

The EcoRock manufacturing process requires 80% less energy than production of tradional gypsum drywall and results in substantially reduced carbon dioxide emissions.  These reductions are due to a streamlined process that omits the most energy-intensive steps such as calcining (dehydrating) and oven-drying the drywall material.

Serious Materials owns U.S. Patent Application Pub. No. 2008/0286609 (‘609 Application), which is directed to the EcoRock wallboard and manufacturing method. 

Gypsum wallboard generally consists of a hardened gypsum core sandwiched between two sheets of paper or other fibrous material.  A major ingredient of the core is calcium sulfate hemihydrate, commonly known as calcined gypsum or stucco.  The calcination step to harden the core requires energy intensive heating of the gypsum and produces large volumes of carbon dioxide.

Serious Materials’ new process allows wallboard to be made from non-calcined materials.  According to the ‘609 application, the EcoRock drywall core is made from a novel binder containing a metal silicate such as calcium silicate and an acid phosphate, together with certain fillers.  Liquids such as water or phosphoric acid are added to this “dry mix” to form a slurry. 

The key is that the combination of binder components creates an exothermic reaction that heats the slurry naturally, obviating the need for energy-intensive heating equipment.  This elegant solution may be the most significant innovation in a process that has been used, by some accounts, for over 100 years.

Indeed, the EcoRock drywall won the 2008 Popular Science “Best of What’s New” Award in the green tech innovation category.

An interesting note from the trademark side:  Serious Materials’ U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 77/035,889 (ecorock_app.pdf) for ECOROCK for “drywall” sailed through the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (ecorock_allowance.pdf) with nary a peep from the examining attorney about being “merely descriptive” of sustainable building materials, despite the mark’s “ECO” component.  (see some previous posts on descriptiveness and ) 

The “ROCK” component and the plain vanilla goods description apparently won the day for Serious Materials’ mark.

Eric Lane Avatar

Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.