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A solar-powered factory for green drywall maker

The Serious Materials drywall will cure itself, so the factory it plans to build will only require a 100-kilowatt solar system, enough to power about 33 homes.

Serious Materials plans to build a big, multimillion dollar factory that's going to be powered by solar panels.

The company is currently scouting out a site for a factory that will be capable of churning out 400 million square feet of drywall a year, said CEO Kevin Surace. The factory, however, will only require a 100-kilowatt solar system to provide its power. The relatively low power requirements come from how Serious makes drywall.

One hundred kilowatts is enough to power about 33 homes. For industrial manufacturing, that's not a low of power. Google put a solar system in its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters that generates 1,600 kilowatts and Applied Materials has one that will cook up 1,900 kilowatts at its headquarters.

Most manufacturers have to cook gypsum at high temperatures and then dry it. By contrast, Serious has devised materials that, when mixed together, congeal into drywall on their own through chemical reactions. In a sense, it's the Jello instant pudding of building materials. (You can get more from this story, one of the first on the company, from earlier in the year.)

Greenhouse gases are cut because little carbon dioxide gets generated in the manufacturing process. And building materials generate a fair amount of gases. The big four materials--cement, drywall, glass and metal--account for 12 percent of all carbon dioxide generated in the world. That's as much as all of the light cars and trucks on the road.

"Building materials are used in such large quantities that it adds up," he said.

The company makes samples now but won't get into volume manufacturing for commercial sale until next year. However, it already sells QuietRock, a soundproof drywall, so it has an existing sales channel. SnoopDogg bought some for his house.

Surace wouldn't comment on financing but he told VentureWire late last month that the company is trying to raise $40 to $50 million and that Serious has about half of the amount locked up.

Surace will be one of the speakers at the Going Green conference taking place this week in Davis, Calif.