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Motz Introduces Safeshell: Organic Infill Crafted from US-Grown Walnut Shells

January 24, 2017 — Motz has dedicated time and resources to moving the synthetic turf industry forward with innovative and progressive infill technology. Since 2005, we have been known for Envirofill®, a synthetic turf infill with Microban® antimicrobial technology. Envirofill has been installed in thousands of athletic and landscape projects across the nation.

The interest in non rubber infills for synthetic turf fields has grown significantly. Customers first turn to alternative infill options out of curiosity but soon realize how progressive infills can significantly enhance the performance of synthetic turf. With recent concerns about athlete exposure to toxins through the historical “industry norm” of crumb rubber infill, our infill team recognized the importance of looking to enhance its product portfolio. We found the organic category of progressive infills very intriguing. “Many employees in our company have backgrounds in agriculture and natural grass so we have a strong appreciation for natural materials” said Mark Heinlein, Director of Research and Development. “Many field owners, accustomed to low-maintenance fields, are challenged by the additional management required of fields with organic infill made primarily of cork granules and coconut fiber. These fields need annual top-off and irrigation to maintain optimum moisture content and playing conditions. Irrigating synthetic turf is costly, and to our team, seems very counter-intuitive, especially as the nationwide attention to preserving water resources rises. These (cork granules and coconut fiber) products have the added challenge of being sourced from far-flung locations such as the Mediterranean and Asian regions.”

Motz was determined to find a better solution than the current organics on the market. They sought to identify an organic infill that would be safe for athletes, offer durability and high performance, as well as minimal maintenance.

“Our team began researching a wide range of natural products in search of something that, at first, seemed improbable… a durable, organic product that would not float or require irrigation, would provide exceptional performance and could be sourced in large quantities domestically,” said Adam Coleman, VP of Marketing & Innovation. It became apparent that walnut shells were the best product because they are the hardest nut shell in the world. “The best product for the job was literally in our backyard. I had a large black walnut tree behind my garage who’s nut shells would stick around for what seemed like forever in my lawn.”

Once walnut shells were decided upon, our company set out to answer the next question posed by field owners – tree nut allergies. Coleman’s daughter has a tree nut allergy so he is keenly aware of the concern that walnut shells could bring parents and field owners if not properly addressed. “I wanted to develop a product that I would feel confident my daughter could play on with no issues. We’re setting out to ease parents’ concerns, not add to them. We weren’t going to launch the product until we developed a process that would absolutely remove the allergens.” Motz partnered with a leading biochemistry firm and developed a patent-pending, chemical-free process that extracts residual allergen proteins from the nut shells. Allergies arise from proteins found in the meat of a nut, not the shell. After years of research, a patent-pending process was developed to reduce allergens below FDA levels required for food labeling. Additionally, we discovered that optimum system performance came from blending English walnut shells grown in California with black walnut shells hand-picked across the Midwest.

After three years of testing and development, Motz has introduced Safeshell, an organic infill for sports turf crafted from 100% US-grown walnut shells that provides a high-performance, fast and firm play surface. Fields with Safeshell require minimal maintenance, offer consistent playability whether they are wet or dry, and do not need to be watered. If a Safeshell field is watered via rain or irrigation, the added moisture offers evaporative cooling benefits— up to 380F cooler than crumb rubber. Safeshell does not float or migrate and degrades very slowly, which results in much less top-off than the other organics on the market. The introduction of this unique and innovative infill will help the turf industry and its progress towards new and better ways. 

A test field has been installed on an athletic field in the Cincinnati area for over two years with very encouraging results. In December 2016, Motz supplied Safeshell for three multipurpose fields in Brooklyn, New York. The new product has also been tested by industry, customer, and focus groups.

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