Tradical Hemcrete, a combination of hemp chips and lime-based binder, is the wall material of choice for a group of builders and designers in North Carolina

Devember 7, 2009 – Fabrics and rugs made with industrial hemp are often cited as acceptably green alternatives to floor coverings made from petrochemicals, or to woolen rugs treated heavily with insecticide. But hemp also has found its way into another domestic application.

And it is not the first alternative use that may come to mind.

Nauhaus Institute, a North Carolina-based coalition of designers, engineers, builders, developers, and others devoted to green construction, has been working with hemp as a wall-construction material. Called Tradical Hemcrete, the material is essentially a lime-based binder and industrial hemp chips (derived from the woody, pretty much unsmokable core of the hemp plant) that, when mixed with water, can be sprayed over a substrate on an exterior wall or poured into forms around timber or stick framing to create a thermally resistant but “breathable” barrier.

A wall-material bakeoff
As noted in a recent story in Asheville, North Carolina’s Citizen-Times, Nauhaus (pronounced “now house”) has two homes under construction that will feature Hemcrete walls. Nauhaus says on its website that, overall, hemp met sustainability, performance, cost, and aesthetic criteria better than competing materials.

“On the natural building side, we feel that earthen mixes don’t have adequate thermal performance in our climate while the vulnerability of straw bales to water damage concerns us,” the group’s partners say on the Nauhaus site. “On the high-performance commercial side, we are skeptical of the long-term durability of SIPS walls and feel that double-stick frame systems are too complex and prone to air infiltration weaknesses. These and other problems seem to be solved by what to us is a new material: Tradical Hemcrete.”

Hemcrete also is billed as insect- and fire-resistant. One issue the group couldn’t get around, however, is that, while industrial hemp products can be imported into the U.S., it is illegal to grow hemp here. Tradical Hemcrete is made in the U.K. by a division of Belgian firm Lhoist Group, a specialist in calcined-limestone products, and is distributed in the U.S. by Hemp Technologies, of Asheville.

A green quandary: shipping from the U.K.
The Citizen-Times story points out that shipping costs make Hemcrete considerably more expensive — the approximately 1,900 sq. ft. of Hemcrete required for one of the Nauhaus projects, with 3,100 sq. ft. of interior space and 12-inch-thick exterior walls, costs about $56,250. But Hemcrete walls also require less lumber, which reduces framing costs 30% to 40%, Greg Flavall, a co-founder of Hemp Technologies, told the paper. Another advantage to Hemcrete, says Nauhaus partner Chris Cashman, is that it serves as “your Sheetrock, insulation and Tyvek all rolled into one.”

Building-performance costs in both Nauhaus projects will be significantly lower than conventionally constructed homes of comparable size, although the smaller of the two structures, a 1,450-sq.-ft. four-bedroom that will serve as a Nauhaus prototype and test house, will have 16-inch-thick walls and solar panels on the roof to bring energy usage to net zero.

Not surprisingly, Nauhaus partners advocate legalizing industrial-hemp growing in the U.S. “Our feeling is, what a great crop this would be for North Carolina’s tobacco growers to get into,” Nauhaus partner Tim Callahan told the Citizen-Times. “Bringing this in from England is probably not the greatest idea (economically). If local farmers can benefit from this, it would be great for them and great for the economy.” Source.

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Because hemp is the ultimate cash crop, producing more fiber, food and oil than any other plant on the planet.

December 1, 2009 – United States: Why Should Farmers Grow Hemp? According to the Notre Dame University publication, The Midland Naturalist, from a 1975 article called, “Feral Hemp in Southern Illinois,” about the wild hemp fields that annual efforts from law enforcement eradication teams cannot wipe out, an acre of hemp produces:

1. 8,000 pounds of hemp seed per acre.

* When cold-pressed, the 8,000 pounds of hemp seed yield over 300 gallons of hemp seed oil and a byproduct of
* 6,000 pounds of high protein hemp flour.

These seed oils are both a food and a biodiesel fuel. Currently, the most productive seed oil crops are soybeans, sunflower seeds and rape seed or canola. Each of these three seed oil crops produce between 100 to 120 gallons of oil per acre. Hemp seed produces three times more oil per acre than the next most productive seed oil crops, or over 300 gallons per acre, with a byproduct of 3 tons of food per acre. Hemp seed oil is also far more nutritious and beneficial for our health than any other seed oil crop.

In addition to the food and oil produced, there are several other byproducts and benefits to the cultivation of hemp.

2. Six to ten tons per acre of hemp bast fiber. Bast fiber makes canvas, rope, lace, linen, and ultra-thin specialty papers like cigarette and bible papers.

3. Twenty-five tons of hemp hurd fiber. Hemp hurd fiber makes all grades of paper, composite building materials, animal bedding and a material for the absorption of liquids and oils.

4. The deep tap root draws up sub-soil nutrients and then, when the leaves fall from the plant to the ground, they return these nutrients to the top soil for the next crop rotation.

5. The residual flowers, after the seeds are extracted, produce valuable medicines.

Our farmers need this valuable crop to be returned as an option for commercial agriculture.

While marijuana is prohibited, industrial hemp will be economically prohibitive due to the artificial regulatory burdens imposed by the prohibition of marijuana. When marijuana and cannabis are legally regulated, industrial hemp will return to its rightful place in our agricultural economy.

Hemp may be the plant that started humans down the road toward civilization with the invention of agriculture itself. All archaeologists agree that cannabis was among the first crops purposely cultivated by human beings at least over 6,000 years ago, and perhaps more than 12,000 years ago.

Restoring industrial hemp to its rightful place in agriculture today will return much control to our farmers, and away from the multinational corporations that dominate our political process and destroy our environment. These capital-intensive, non-sustainable, and environmentally destructive industries have usurped our economic resources and clear-cut huge tracts of the world’s forests, given us massive oil spills, wars, toxic waste, massive worldwide pollution, global warming and the destruction of entire ecosystems.

Prohibiting the cultivation of this ancient plant, the most productive source of fiber, oil and protein on our planet, is evil. In its place we have industries that give us processes and products that have led to unprecedented ecological crisis and worldwide destruction of the biological heritage that we should bequeath to our children, grandchildren and future generations.

Restore hemp! Source. By Paul Stanford

More Information on Hemp:
Why Can’t We Grow Hemp in America?
Hemp Facts
The Case for Hemp in America
The Versatility of the Incredible Hemp Plant and How It Can Help Create a More Sustainable Future

ATLANTA, MI– Could industrial hemp be the next cash crop for northern Michigan farmers? A group in Montmorency County hopes so.

Everett Swift went before the Montmorency County Board of Commissioners Wednesday morning urging them to pass a resolution that would open up opportunities for farmers to cultivate industrial hemp.

“It’s got over 25,000 different uses,” Swift said. “Textiles, biofuels, they’re making biodegradable plastics, concrete, building materials.”

Currently it’s legal to sell hemp products, however it’s illegal to cultivate, or grow, hemp without a permit from the federal government. While hemp and marijuana both belong in the cannabis plant family, supporters of the pro-industrial hemp resolution say they are very different.

“The difference, it’s like a male and female plant,” said Jolene Fowler, a local hemp jewelry business owner. “Hemp doesn’t flower, it doesn’t have any narcotic effects.”

During Wednesday’s highly attended county commission meeting, supporters took turns expressing their views on the topic. In the end the Montmorency County Commission declined to take any action on the topic. It’s not clear if or when they’ll revisit the issue.

November 20th, 2009 – U.K. – A house built from straw-bales and panels of hemp has passed an industry standard fire safety test which exposed it to temperatures above 1,000C.

BaleHaus@Bath is part of a new research project at the University of Bath into how renewable building materials can be used for homes of the future.

The house is made from prefabricated cells of timber filled with straw or hemp, rendered with a lime-based coat.

During the fire resistance test for non-loadbearing elements, the panel had to withstand heat for more than 30 minutes. After more than two hours it had still not failed.

A panel had previously been put through structural tests for loadbearing elements and had passed.

Researchers Dr Katharine Beadle and Christopher Gross, from the University’s Building Research Establishment Centre in Innovative Construction Materials, will be monitoring the house for a year.

They will be checking its insulating properties, humidity levels, air tightness and sound insulation qualities to assess the performance of straw and hemp as building materials.

The technology was used last year to build an eco-friendly house in six days for the Grand Designs Live exhibition.

“I expect the results will show people that we can minimize the use of highly processed materials in building and genuinely make use of such sustainable building materials,” he said.

“It’s vital that we encourage people to recycle, insulate and minimize the use of fossil fuels to keep our buildings warm.”

The ModCell BaleHaus system has been created by White Design in Bristol and Integral Structural Design in Bath. Source.

November 16, 2009 – Alberta, Canada – As combines mowed farmers’ fields across Canadian prairies this fall, there was a scene near Edmonton right out of a time arc-logo1warp: a crew of workers using their hands to harvest plants. They were taking down three-metre-tall hemp plants at a breeding nursery outside of Vegreville. The plants, which dwarfed the workers, were bundled, numbered, bagged and transported to researchers, who see a high-tech future for the ancient plant.

The Alberta Research Council (ARC) is working to help hemp find its way into everything from homes to cars to clothes. It’s part of a campaign to see our agriculture and forestry industries compete in the global push for sustainable products.

“ARC is evaluating hemp as a fibre crop for mature, large-scale industries looking for green products. Alberta’s soil and climate are perfectly suited for growing hemp crops,” says ARC crop and plant physiologist, Jan Slaski. “We analyze the seed and plant for biomass and fibre yield, as part of the breeding program for creating the perfect industrial hemp,” says Slaski. ARC uses advanced breeding techniques to develop traits such as water and nitrogen use efficiency, with no useable trace of the psychoactive compound THC, which is found in marijuana. The breeding program will ultimately lead to a stronger plant with a bigger yield.

In ARC’s Edmonton facility, advanced materials program leader John Wolodko picks up a boat part made from material pressed from hemp and plastic. “This is traditionally made from fiberglass,” he says. “Products made from biocomposites work as well as those made from conventional materials, with the advantages of being lighter and less expensive. The ability of environmentally friendly products to compete with non-renewable products like fiberglass makes for a competitive and promising future for the biocomposites industry.”

Slaski and Wolodko are part of ARC’s biofibre development team, the largest of its kind in Canada, offering solutions from “seed to final product.” Hemp is only one aspect of the biofibre program, but its unrivalled fibre and biomass yield make the fast-growing and versatile crop a potential biocomposite superstar. While wheat straw yields about 3 tonnes of fibre per hectare, hemp weighs in at 10 to 15 tonnes.

Slaski peels a hemp stalk, holds the outer fibre in both hands and yanks with force. The fibre is unrelenting. The peeled outer and inner layers each have different industry potential. Applications for the resilient, long outer (bast) fibre include car parts, textiles, reinforced cement and panel boards for construction. Hemp’s inner core (hurd) fibre is only a half-millimeter long and has only recently seen a high demand. “It is appealing as an absorbent for the oil and gas industry or bedding for livestock operations, since it has no dust,” says Slaski.

Alberta’s new ally for the agriculture and forestry industries is the Alberta Biomaterials Development Centre (ABDC), a $15 million facility set up by the province to bring advanced products and sustainable solutions to market. “The hemp processing challenge is an example of where ABDC will fill technical gaps in processing biomaterials and business gaps to get products to market faster,” says ARC business development manager Richard Gibson.

ABDC offers access to expertise, test facilities, scale-up equipment, validation prototyping and customer-demonstration support. “Bio-industrial entrepreneurs will be able to test their business cases at ABDC,” says Alberta Agriculture program leader and ABDC spokesperson Trevor Kloeck. “Industry will have access to staff and specialized equipment, such as technology used to separate the different hemp fibres. Then the market applications are endless.”

ABDC’s resources work in tandem with those at ARC to form a bridge between the field and the final product. “We have a patent-pending decortication process. This technology produces 10 to 50 mm-length fibres, for biocomposite products and pulp and paper applications,” says ARC research engineer Laura McIlveen. “ABDC has slightly different technology: a long-line decorticator, which processes one-third-metre-length fibre at one tonne an hour.” Both technologies are available through ABDC for pilot scale market assessments.

Hemp is currently grown in Alberta for the high quality oil niche market. But the case for using a new and improved strain of hemp for a broad range of products is becoming stronger by the day. “It also makes sense to include hemp in rotation with wheat and canola,” says Slaski, “since it can reduce the spread of disease and increase the life of the fertility of the soil.”

That could mean that scene out of the time warp will vanish, as hemp becomes a lucrative industrial crop, harvested with high-tech machinery to provide solutions for green products. Source.

November 16, 2008 – PSA, the French manufacturer for Peugeot and Citroen, has recently initiated its Green Materials Plan. This plan intends to increase car parts psa-peugeot-citroen_ieaSL_11446made from natural materials 600 percent by 2015. They are making a few parts now that are based on flax and hemp.

PSA’s Green Materials Plan focuses on three areas: Biopolymers to replace plastics derived from oil; Natural fibers from flax and hemp mixed with other materials, such as wood chips; And recycled materials from shredded plastic bottles mixed with glass fibers.

The plastic interior door panels made by PSA are already 50 percent flax fibers pressed with wood chips. Other parts, including mirror and windshield wiper mountings, use hemp instead of glass fiber in their material mix.

Oil based plastics in cars make up to 20 percent of a car’s weight on average. Of that 20 percent, only six percent is currently green or cellulose based. PSA’s goal is to increase that six percent to 30 percent of the plastic used.

Hemp is legal in France, so further advances with hemp for car parts may unfold. Laurent Bechin, PSA’s natural-fibers specialist, pointed out that the hemp used does not produce marijuana. “It would need about two tons of this material to produce one joint”, he quipped.

Hemp and flax for building cars is not new. It was actually done in the USA by Henry Ford while hemp was legal in 1941. The experimental model’s body was seventy percent made of fibers from field straw, cotton fibers, hemp, and flax. The other 30 percent consisted of soy meal and bio-resin fillers.

Ford’s successful prototype was tagged as the vegetable or hemp car.

Ford’s motivation was green-based for two reasons. He wanted to increase agricultural involvement for materials in the automotive industry to improve the farmers’ economic plight. And he wanted to build lighter, stronger cars with better fuel efficiency.

The car weighed 2000 pounds compared to 3000 pounds for similar all-steel automobiles. In 1941, ethanol had a higher octane and was cheaper to produce than gasoline. Ford designed the car to run on partial or complete ethanol fuels.

But steel and oil magnates lobbied government to ensure Ford’s vision would never manifest. Source.

November 7, 2009 – “Flax is so injurious to our lands, and so scanty produce, that I have never attempted (using) it. Hemp, on the other hand, is abundantly productive and will grow forever onhempsketchpaper1 the same spot.” –
Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, Journal Entry of December 29, 1815

A reaction to the loss of the world’s rainforests is an attempt to find alternate sources of fiber for paper – to replace wood fiber. One pro hemp group that some call the “industrial hemp movement” would have you believe hemp fiber is the answer to deforestation.

Some hemp supporters legitimately want to use hemp for manufactured products including paper. Others may be pursuing the agenda of legalizing Cannabis sativa C. Linnaeus for medicinal and recreational uses and are using the “alternative use” issue as an end-run to legalization.

Another name for this plant is marijuana.

The History of Hemp Fiber

The Chinese used hemp for paper as far back as 8,000 BC. Ancient documents have been retrieved that were totally hemp based. This is certainly a testament to the ability of hemp fiber to withstand the destructive nature of time.

Herodotus writes that Thracians used both the wild and cultivated fiber for cloth. He marveled at the garments made from hemp and compared it to linen. He also wrote about the purification rites associated with “vapor-baths” and breathing smoldering smoke from moist hemp seed.

Hemp’s by-product is tetrahydracannabinol (THC) and is a psychoactive chemical generally absorbed through the respiratory system or digestive tract with a significant effect on perception and cognitive abilities.

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were advocates of Cannabis fiber and recommended their fellow countrymen to use the plant for lamp oil and fabric for uniforms and clothing. Jefferson found its cloth a rival to cotton, at much less cost and he used it to clothe his farm hands. George Washington was said to be more familiar with the plant as a drug.

The last legal hemp crop was harvested in 1957 due to competitive industrial product shifts and a restrictive U.S. Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Today, in many countries, it is illegal to grow hemp without a government permit – and the permits are nearly impossible to get.

The Industrial Hemp Movement

There is now a worldwide revival of value-added hemp products as an alternative material for building, food products, health and beauty aids, fabrics, car fuel, and paper. It does not seem to be catching on as the Worlds demand for industrial hemp fiber is not increasing.

The Argument For Hemp Paper…

Dave Seber, in an interview for High Times magazine, indicated that being in the “lumber business for almost 15 years now…I have watched the forests being taken out here.” Seber has been a redwood logger and president of C&S Lumber, an R&D organization in Oregon dedicated to finding replacement fibers for wood.

“As I see it,” Seber says “we’ve got 10 to 20 years, tops, before the entire ecosystem, as we know it, will collapse because of what they are doing in these forests.” He goes on to suggest that the “environmental threat” to forests will worsen if no alternate fiber to wood is found. And, as you probably guessed, he thinks hemp is the answer.

Edit: This prediction was made in 1997.

Carol Moran heads a company called Living Tree Paper Company in Eugene, Oregon. She, according to an article in ENN Online, is convinced that hemp can “single-handedly stop worldwide deforestation.” Her company’s magazine is even printed on non-tree hemp paper.

Mary Kane, publisher of HempWorld, a quarterly journal of the hemp movement says that “eventually the DEA will be forced to relinquish the ban on hemp farming. It’s a plant that can provide alternatives to anything synthetic.” She further states that “hemp can save the world but we have to give it a chance.”

Hemp advocates argue that hemp fiber is more durable than wood and can be recycled more frequently than tree fiber. Hemp produces a highly nutritious seed crop that can be of comparable value to the fiber crop. Agriculturally grown hemp would fit well with natural forests and tree plantations.

The Argument Against Hemp Paper…

Detractors of the annual agricultural production of hemp fiber are just as vocal against growing hemp fiber. They contend that hemp farming is very demanding on the environment and would negate any possible benefits ascribed to it. Hemp fiber would be cost prohibitive when compared to silvicultural production of wood fiber.

Any annual crop demands a period of establishment and reestablishment, during which the site has to be intensely cultivated and treated for weeds and pests. This has to be repeated until the crop is properly established and done on an annual basis for crops like flax, wheat, cotton, or hemp. Most tree species, even if grown on a fast rotation, would mean less site disturbance and have much less need for chemicals; Trees are more forgiving of site preparation, chemical support, and revisits after planting.

Large areas of cultivated fields would be necessary. This would, in itself, mean clearing land of trees and would comprise the best land in terms of fertility and topography. Irrigation would become necessary in some areas for best production. Tending hemp would be expensive and compete for land and other resources.

Dr. Patrick Moore writing on the subject on his web site Greenspirit indicates that “at least twice as much nutrient must be available in an easily assimilable form as will finally be removed from the soil by the leaf-free harvest”. Hemp is a nutrient sponge. Crop rotation and the added expense of stripping leaves and flowers would be the desired method of nutrient replacement. All this adds to increased disturbance of the site, the addition of either manure crops or chemical nutrients, and an increase in per acre expense.

The last little kink in the use of hemp for fiber is a significant concern called cost. According to Austrialia’s NAFI and Heike Von Der Lancken, “hemp pulp costs $2,500 per ton as compared to $400 per ton for typical bleached wood pulp.” This would create the need for another farm subsidy to make costs match. By Steve Nix. Source.