Bricks from agricultural waste might seem unusual at first glance but it is Hempstatic’s business model. The young Vienna-based start-up wants to specialize in the recycling of building units or bricks and has developed recyclable materials from cannabis for this purpose. Hempstatic wants to use these hempcrete bricks for new construction, conversion, and renovations that are C02-free.
Hempcrete is a material from which bricks or surfaces are made. It is an insulating material that does not produce any waste at the end of its service life. The recyclable material is developed from the by-products of cannabis.
“We specialize in the design and manufacture of tailor-made components from agricultural residues that do not produce CO2 emissions and are recyclable. Our goal is to accelerate the transition to a closed-loop economy in the construction industry while maintaining local value chains,” explained Elena Yaneva, Hempstatic’s Management & Technology Manager.
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Hempcrete has origins dating back thousands of years
Hempcrete is an unusual idea that actually originated in the Neolithic period. It was when the agricultural revolution began and people bred and spread cultivated plants for the first time.
Yaneva explains that one of the oldest of these plants is called Cannabis Sativa L or cannabis. The plant digs its roots deep into the soil, extracts its nutrients from the lowest layers of the earth and brings them to the surface.
The following plants then benefit from the nutrient-rich soils. The products made from these soils are of such high quality that it is economically unreasonable to grow cannabis only for the production of cannabis hurds (the woody core pieces of the stems).
“The shives are therefore a by-product but contain an unusually high proportion of silicon dioxide, which ensures strong bonds in an alkaline environment. That’s why they are perfectly suited for the production of bio aggregates,” said Yaneva.
How hempcrete is made
Hempcrete is a composite material consisting of cannabis hurds and lime-based binding materials.
“The ingredients are mixed and placed in molds, after which the final products are air-dried. After about one month, the desired hardness is achieved, similar to concrete. The hardening still takes a while, about 50 years. This time is necessary for the lime to set again to calcium carbonate (limestone) with the help of carbon dioxide, thus closing the cycle of the material,” said Yaneva.
According to Yaneva, Hempcrete also shows interesting properties for end consumers such as thermal insulation, sound insulation, and porosity, which improve the quality of life in buildings and reduce energy requirements.
In Great Britain, consumers would report an energy cost reduction of up to 70% in hempcrete houses. Hempstatic has also produced acoustic panels from hempcrete.
Hexagonal wall claddings ensure that the reverberation in the room is significantly reduced. This makes sense, for example, in-office or meeting rooms with only marginal equipment.
Hemp makes for versatile applications
The advantage lies in the versatility of hempcrete. Industrial hemp has a wide application in the building industry and can be used for structural reinforcement, as a component of composite materials or as an insulating or filling material for floors, ceilings, and walls.
However, according to Yaneva, the full potential of hempcrete is only just being unfolded.
“Hempcrete will become more and more popular in the coming years. This construction method falls under the megatrend Green Building, a long-term trend whose effects will be felt beyond our generation,” the founder is certain. “The use of renewable crops as raw materials in the construction industry is in line with the development towards a sustainably built environment.”
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