Texas A&M University Receives Funding for Hempcrete Research
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Texas A&M University Receives Funding for Hempcrete Research

University researchers will 3D print new buildings using hempcrete and will create them to “achieve structural and energy performance that will comply with modern design codes.”

June 24, 2022

At Texas A&M University, researchers are working on a plan to “3D print new resilient buildings using hempcrete,” according to the Texas A&M Today.

The U.S. Department of Energy AdvancedResearch Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Harnessing Emissions into StructuresTaking Inputs from the Atmosphere (HESTIA) program, gave $3.74 million to fund the project, which has the potential to increase the availability of affordable housing and “lower the environmental impact of traditional construction methods,” the news outlet reported.

Hempcrete (hemplime) is made from a “mixture of hemp hurd with a lime-based binder that creates a ‘monolithic wall system,’… to be used as a material for construction and insulation,” Cannabis Business Times previously reported.

RELATED: How Sustainabilityis Driving the Hemp Building Industry in Europe and the U.S.

Hempcrete is also a sustainable building material, as the plant has carbon-sequestering properties.

“While production of conventional construction materials such as concrete requires large amounts of energy and releases large amounts of CO2, hempcrete is a net carbon-negative material, which can provide major environmental benefits,” said Petros Sideris, assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who is leading the project as the “principal investigator to develop residential and potential commercial construction designs.”

Hempcrete is also water- and fire-resistant and has thermal insulating properties, which can lower heating and cooling costs, according to the news outlet.

As previously reported by CBT, the U.S. Hemp Building Association(USHBA) submitted hempcrete insulation for certification in U.S. building codes earlier this year.

For insulating materials to be considered for certification by the U.S. building codes, “you need to prove your insulative ability, as well as your fire-spread,” Jacob Waddell, USHBA president, told CBT in February.

Waddell said USHBA did a fire-spread test on hempcrete, and it scored close to zero.

Editor’s note: A “fire-spread” test, also referred to as the American Society for Testing and Materials [ASTM] E84, is used to assess the burning behavior of building material used for interior walls and ceiling finishes. Results of these tests are measured by Flame Spread Index (SFI) and Smoke Developed Index (SDI), and each building material is given a standard class based on the results, according to Applied Lab. A flame spread score of 0-25, also known as Class 1 or A, means the building material will adequately restrict fire spread. In this case, the score of zero for hempcrete insulation is preferred, compared to maple wood, which scored 104 (Class C or 3) based on this chart.”

At Texas A&M University, researchers will 3D print new buildings using hempcrete, which will be “created to achieve structural and energy performance that will comply with modern design codes,” the university’s news outlet reported.

“The advancements of this project will contribute to the U.S. maintaining its worldwide leadership in advanced construction methods and infrastructure sustainability and resilient technologies," Sideris said.