Newswise — Hempcrete is “a mixture of hemp hurds and Portland cement that is viewed as a useful and more sustainable building material” said Virginia Tech industrial hemp-use expert John Fike, “because it is a natural plant product which can sequester carbon at the same time as it’s being used to insulate living and work spaces.”
Hempcrete has been in the news recently because of its potential use in a citizen-funded border wall project.
Professor of sustainability, innovation and design Tom Hammett, adds “with recent changes in crops and the business environment, we feel that exploring hemp offers us a unique opportunity to position farmers and processors so that they gain help to produce and market the many hemp products.”
“Hempcrete is not a structural material but rather is used between the support structures in building walls. The material has good insulation ability, and because the material absorbs moisture and volatile organic compounds, it creates a more stable and clean living environment.”
“The long "bast" fibers from the outer portion of the hemp plant's stem are used in textiles, fabrics, and canvas among others. The short fibers, often called "hurd", are found on the inner core of the stem. Hurd historically has been a lower value material, but it increasingly is being considered for its absorbent ability and used in making hempcrete.”
“Currently the material is used primarily for residential construction, and opportunities to scale up for broader use likely are limited due to a lack of processing capacity.”
John Fike, is leading the evaluation of industrial hemp and its potential to boost economic development in Virginia. He is also an associate professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. His expertise has been featured in the Associated Press, WVTF RADIO IQ (Virginia NPR affiliate), Virginia Mercury and Lancaster Farming.
Tom Hammett is the associate dean of academic programs and professor of sustainability, innovation and design in the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. He has incorporated hemp into his teaching and research work and focuses on what happens to the hemp during and after harvest. Several of his students have projects related to hemp production, processing, and markets. His expertise has been featured on the NPR, Roanoke Times, WDBJ (Virginia CBS affiliate), WSET (Virginia ABC affiliate), and in agricultural trade journals.
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