EPA awards research funds for hemp concrete improvements

Hemp’s potential in sustainable construction has won some California researchers a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have been awarded more than $12,000 to study a new way to process hemp for hempcrete.

The students will experiment with a cleaner way to process hemp fibers to create pulp.

Hemp is a promising, sustainable building material, but producing hemp pulp for hempcrete can leave behind some nasty pollutants.

The most common way to produce industrial fibers from hemp – the Kraft pulping process – leaves behind roughly 7 tons of runoff called “black liquor” for every 1 ton of usable pulp.

Black liquor is a term from paper processing and refers to a stew of lignin residues, organic sulfides and other chemicals.

The California students want to try a one-step process to separate lignin from plant biomass at low temperatures, “to allow for much cleaner and faster pulping of hemp fibers without the production of black liquor.”

“Our project goal is to produce hempcrete as a lighter, stronger and more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fossil-based concrete,” the researchers wrote in a grant first reported by Marijuana Moment.