Rebar is used to constructing the skeletal framework in buildings as it provides the tensile strength that concrete lacks. Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private research university in Troy, New York say they have developed hemp‐based rebar reinforcing technology for cement construction, reported hemptoday.net.
The building and construction industries have embraced the environmental benefits of hemp fiber. However, there are technical hurdles that need to be overcome, including the lack of effective stalk processing methods and equipment that does not damage the fiber, lack of material property data, lack of manufacturing methods, and, crucially, lack of higher value end-products for the construction industry.
This is why Alexandros Tsamis, assistant professor of architecture and associate director of the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology, and Dan Walczyk, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Manufacturing Innovation Center are working to create machines that can separate the hemp fibers from the inner, woody core of the plant without adversely affecting its mechanical properties.
The research team said the preliminary study of the material has shown strength characteristics comparable to steel and the potential for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
This hemp research is among the first projects to come from the new Institute for Energy, Built Environment and Smart Systems (EBESS) at Rensselaer. Fusing architectural design and engineering, EBESS creates a sustainable infrastructure that is both net-zero and climate-resilient through the use of renewable energy systems, sentient building platforms, and new materials.
“Rensselaer is pleased to be a partner in this exciting effort to develop and commercialize hemp as an industrial product,” said Robert Hull, Rensselaer acting vice president for research at a recent workshop to discuss the growing hemp industry and opportunities in New York.
“Rensselaer is home to world-class researchers and platforms focused on driving discovery and innovation in advanced manufacturing and the built environment," Hull said. "A major focus of this new Institute will be to create new processes and products that drive decarbonization of the construction industry, in this case by helping to incorporate industrial hemp into New York’s built infrastructure.”
Photo by Matteo Paganelli on Unsplash.
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