Kyle Towberman week 7
Today, one of the biggest issues facing us is finding a sustainable and environmentally friendly building material. Many ideas have been proposed for this, including wood, bamboo, or even bio bricks, which are produced by bacteria. But one old technology that has been passed over in this discussion of renewable materials is hemp. It grows so fast that it doesn’t need pesticides and can grow in extremely dense lots. But when people think of hemp, they usually think of marijuana and THC. This, however, is a greatly over-exaggerated relationship.
Hemp and marijuana technically come from the same plant, however, the breeds are completely different. The hemp plant for example, grows much taller and faster, as well as contains .05-1% of THC. A typical marijuana plant has 5%-20% THC. This means that getting high off of hemp is nearly impossible.
Thankfully, not everyone was fooled by this myth. There are a few new types of materials that were developed using hemp. One such material is called Hempcrete. This is a hemp based concrete that is non-toxic, gives off no gasses, has no solvents, mold resistance, high vapor permeability, humidity control, durable, sustainable, carbon sequestration, fire and pest resistance, and has passive self-regulation of temperature and humidity. Its only downfall is that it is not structural, and cannot use rebar systems, so it must use a different system of support.
Another hemp material that is not-so-new to the world is hemp based plastics. This is already being experimented with by many car manufactures including Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda, and Mercedes to produce hemp based materials in their cars. It can be up to 2.5 times stronger than polypropylene plastics. Bio plastics are not a new development however, and are starting to become more and more common. The downfalls to bio based plastics is the price of manufacturing, which can get quite expensive.
Hemp can be incorporated into so many different products that we could actually live in a world made from hemp, someone has even built an ENTIRE house out of hemp. Hemp may just be the wave of the future.