Hemp is a plant that has had a bad rep for quite some time. It is a variety of cannabis that contains virtually no THC. It’s full of other essential phytocannabinoids, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids though. It’s a superfood that is just making its way back into our lives. In 2018, Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill which removed hemp from the Controlled Substance Act. This move opened doors for research into this widely misunderstood cousin of medical cannabis. Hemp does not produce a buzz or high. You can smoke trash bags of it and remain completely sober, minus the potential headache from smoking too much.
Building The Future
Hemp has a multitude of potential uses ranging into the tens of thousands. There’s concrete evidence supporting the need for research into alternative uses for hemp. The Environmental Protection Agency understands this need and supports scientific research about this widely misunderstood plant. They recently awarded an estimated $12,000 Grant to a group of student lead researchers from the University of California Riverside. As a result, the student lead team will do an investigative study exploring the potential industrial applications of hemp in construction.
One specific avenue of this research is looking into sustainable pulping processes for making hempcrete. Prepare yourself because this is a mouthful, an earful, or even an eyeful depending on how you look at it. Co-solvent enhanced lignocellulosic fraction technology will be researched in an effort to reduce any toxic by-products during the pulping process and production of hemp fibres. An organic compound called tetrahydrofuran that is renewable along with sulfuric acid that’s been diluted will be used to process hemp fibres instead of the current multi-step pulping procedure. The EPA sees hempcrete as a potentially sweet concrete option to build the future.
The mechanism “is comparable to that of the Kraft pulping process while also producing a useful fermentable sugar solution as a byproduct, thus allowing more of the original hemp to be used before waste treatment.”
Hemp has the ability to replace many of the products that currently do detrimental harm to our environment. Not only can hemp replace these processes, but it also helps to improve the health of soil through a process known as phytoremediation. Have you had the pleasure of checking out hempcrete at one of the many expos held nationwide each year? Have you seen a structure built of hempcrete? If so, we would love to hear from you in the comments below!