Texas A&M studies hempcrete and could be ‘the future of home building’
BRAZOS VALLEY, Texas — Texas A&M University has received more than $3 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Harnessing Emissions into Structures Taking Inputs from the Atmosphere (HESTIA) program for the research on hempcrete and its ability to make housing more accessible and affordable.
This lightweight, eco-friendly building material has been proven to build long-lasting homes using hemp fibers, lime and water.
Dr. Petros Sideris leads his research team to learn more about hempcrete and its abilities to build durable structures.
“On this new idea, I think it’s a good idea to basically marry construction with 3D printing with a sustainable material, and that sustainable material would be hempcrete,” said Dr. Sideris, assistant professor at the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Nathan Touchette is the property manager at Habitat for Humanity in the Bryan/College Station area and said he was open to using this material.
“It seems like a great product,” Touchette said. “I’d like to see it used and how its application works in the field and kind of see some testing and research on that.”
With research soon to be underway, Dr Sideris said there was a need for more housing and hempcrete could be the answer.
“I would say a pressing need that we have as a country,” Dr Sideris said. “It’s probably worldwide, but definitely thinking about the United States, we have a major need for housing.”
Dr. Sideris says it’s their method that helps the material last.
“The method we use also makes it sustainable,” Dr. Sideris said. “That would be 3D printing. The advantage of 3D printing is that you place the material exactly where you are using and make as much material as you need.
He said that with other materials like concrete you cannot unmix the mixture, so with hempcrete no product is wasted as it is reusable.
“Developing the material that we will use for printing and characterizing its properties, making sure it is durable, making sure it has the right mechanical strength,” Dr. Sideris said.
The goal is to create a durable structure using hempcrete as the main material, as well as concrete.
“It has very good thermal insulation properties and it is also hygroscopic, which means it can regulate humidity and temperature,” Dr Sideris said. “In the long term, you can reduce the need for heating and cooling.”
Touchette agrees that hempcrete has advantages, but would like to know more about the accessibility of the material
“It adds an insulation value that’s great,” Touchette said. “It’s a little more durable, which makes the concrete a little less likely to chip. The benefits are there, that’s for sure. Accessibility is definitely something I question and profitability. »
Since hempcrete is not as popular as concrete, Dr. Sideris says the cost is currently higher, but as soon as there is demand, the costs could come down.
Touchette wants to try hempcrete if it helps their families.
“Definitely open to trying new products that could save our families money and save us money in the long run as well,” Touchette said.
Dr. Sideris says the goal is to come up with a 3D-printed design using hempcrete and bring it to market for companies to use in construction to create sustainable homes efficiently and in bulk. .