Agribusiness & Food

Hempcrete could be used as sustainable construction material

Trials have found potential for industrial hemp in South Australian as an irrigated summer crop under the state's often challenging weather conditions.

Hemp grown in South Australia could be used to produce a concrete-like mixture to build more energy efficient buildings.

University of Adelaide’s Professor Rachel Burton, Researcher in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, said it has massive potential and there’s lots of interest in being able to build houses now from hemp.

“Hemp is an extremely good insulator. It has been recognised that it controls humidity and it provides a lovely living environment for humans,” Burton said.

“It’s fire retardant, so ideal for Australian conditions and maybe California and other places that are hot and dry.”

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Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis that doesn’t have high levels of THC – the chemical that triggers the “high” associated with marijuana.

Fibres from inside the plant’s stem can be mixed with water and lime to produce a concrete-like mixture, known as hempcrete, which can be used to create bricks, or the fibres can be used in pre-cast panels for sound-proofing or insulation.

“There are still many barriers to producing hempcrete but hemp houses and other plant-based products have huge potential to change how we build,” Burton said.

“People are looking for more environmentally friendly ways to reduce reliance on scarce resources.”

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