Hemp – Stonger and Lighter than Cement

I subscribe to some very scholarly journals on green building. I also subscribe to some radical journals on politics and conspiracies. I like to check out the pulse from various sources. And when I start seeing trends overlapping I know it is something worth paying attention to.

This week I was reading in this one very academic journal about the use of hemp fibers mixed with lime to make a concrete-like material that is stronger and apparently six times lighter than real concrete. It is used in France a lot and expanding around Europe.

And then one of my conspiracy journals also spoke about it, but from the perspective of it being this miracle material that was being kept from the building industry due to political reasons (hemp apparently has many uses that threatens existing companies, namely oil and timber companies).

Seeing it in two widely different contects raised my interest. It does indeed seem to be a viable building material on the rise. Worth keeping an eye out for it.

The basics:
hemp grows as a plant, thus CONSUMES CO2.
it grows abundantly and quickly, thus is rapidly renewable.
because it grows, it does most of the production itself reducing embodied energy.
once it is made into “concrete” the CO2 is fixed into the walls, thus it is a CO2 neutral or possibly even CO2 NEGATIVE product.

portland cement requires huge manufacturing power and thus creates massive amounts of CO2. It is the largest creator of CO2 in the building industry. Enough said.

Basically, the connection of hemp with weed smoking hippies is a farce. Hemp has too many positive attributes, from paper, oil, wax, cement (the list is long) for it to be considered negatively.

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