Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is developing hemp reinforcement as an alternative to steel, created by bonding stem fibers to a thermoplastic compound.
An alternative you want replace traditional steel rods inserted in reinforced concrete with hemp reinforcements. The study was initiated by Professor Alexandros Tsamis of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The proposal aims to solve the problem of corrosion of steel in reinforced concrete structures.
A necessity to which is added that of continuing to reduce the environmental load of the construction industry. And in this context, steel is undoubtedly one of the direct culprits.
The research is part of the Seed to City Hemp project. An initiative of the New York State Department of Agricultural Policy, which since 2018 has been funding projects related to the development of industrial hemp.
The potential of hemp fiber.
Corrosion of steel reinforcements is usually invisible. Moisture infiltration compromises the strength of the material.
According to research, replacing structures with hemp reinforcements would extend the useful life of buildings and significantly reduce emissions.
Rensselaer’s test compound uses hemp stalk fibers, combining them with a bioplastic resin that has been thermally heated and fused together.
To create these special hemp reinforcements, a special CNC machine installed in the Rensselaer Polytechnic laboratories was used.
The useful life of load-bearing structures could be extended by several decades. Like alternative materials like glass or carbon fiber, but at incredibly low costs.
Instead of pulling it out of the ground, we make it grow.
Obviously, the project is still in its early stages, but the researchers involved say that the technology and knowledge to make the prototype a reality already exists and is within everyone’s reach. The only thing missing is a supply chain for the raw material, industrial hemp.
What is industrial hemp.
Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis that contains a very small amount of psychoactive THC.
Its fibers are among the strongest in the plant world, on a par with fiberglass.
Another characteristic is the speed of growth. A crop of industrial hemp grows twice as fast as a tree, with twice the carbon sequestration.