Kentucky notches fiber first in testing hemp for bridge repair

A Kentucky bridge is the first in the nation to be repaired with hemp fibers, part of a University of Kentucky project to strengthen the state’s aging bridges.

Engineering professor Issam Harik led the project, part of a larger effort to study the use of fiber-reinforced polymer composites in bridge repair and building construction.

Harik used hemp fibers to shore up a pile on a bridge in northeastern Kentucky.

The university calls the project the first time that hemp fiber has been used as a construction material for bridge repair.

Harik said engineering students helped create sections used in the repair, adding that hemp fibers aren’t ideal components for bridges. He noted that hemp fibers are:

  • Relatively low in strength.
  • Incompatible with existing resins.
  • Seasonable.

Still, he told the university news service that he’s optimistic about the potential for hemp fibers in construction.

“Some of the limitations can be overcome with ongoing and future research,” Harik said.

More details about the professor’s bridge work can be found here.