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Researchers say hemp rebar can replace steel in construction

Alexandros Tsames, Dan Walc
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Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA) say they have developed a hemp-based rebar strengthening technology for building cement.

Alexandros Tsamesassistant professor of architecture and co-director of the Center for Architectural and Environmental Sciences, and Dan and CzechM., professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Center for Manufacturing Innovation, says natural fiber reinforced thermoplastic rebar can replace steel in concrete buildings and infrastructure projects, eliminating common corrosion-related problems while extending the life of structures.

Rebar is used to construct skeletal structures in traditional concrete buildings to provide tensile strength that concrete lacks.

Strong as steel

The research team said that preliminary study of the material demonstrated similar strength properties to steel, and the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The research is among the first projects to come from the new Rensselaer Institute for Energy, Built Environment and Intelligent Systems (EBESS), an interdisciplinary design, engineering and business initiative. EBESS is developing a broad plan for a sustainable and economically viable hemp industry that can address issues related to climate change in the traditional built environment.

Technologies are probed

Rensselaer researchers say they are working on several innovative and cost-effective hemp processing technologies that led to the development of hemp rebar.

These projects include developing a de-hulling technology that can separate hemp fibers from the woody inner core of the stalk without negatively affecting the material’s mechanical properties; sustainable degumming method; And methods for processing a new biocomplex from cannabis.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a private research university in Troy, New York.

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