Construction Research

Texas A&M Receives Grant to Develop 3D-Printable ‘Hempcrete’ Buildings

Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, recently received a $3.74-million grant to research and develop the ability to 3D-print buildings using concrete made from hemp—or “hempcrete.” Local news reports that the substance made from hemp powder or fibers, lime and water could be used as a light, cheap and green building material and could help reduce the environmental impact of construction and make housing cheaper.

The grant comes 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, according to university news.

The project will be led by Dr. Petros Sideris, assistant professor at the university’s Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. According to a university news story, his team will include assistant professor Dr. Maria Koliou, professor Dr. Zachary Grasley, and professor Dr. Anand Puppala; and associate professor Dr. Manish Dixit and professor Dr. Wei Yan from the College of Architecture.

“While production of conventional construction materials such as concrete requires large amounts of energy and releases large amounts of CO2 (carbon dioxide), hempcrete is a net carbon-negative material, which can provide major environmental benefits,” Sideris said. "Resilience to natural hazards is intertwined with environmental sustainability because building damage and subsequent repairs due to extreme events such as hurricanes result in major environmental impacts.”

The project aims to make building designs printable and to meet modern design codes for structural integrity and energy performance. The digital designs will allow the process to be easily adopted by the construction industry at large.

“Hempcrete has excellent fire resistance and thermal insulating properties that can reduce heating and cooling energy demands," said Sideris. "It is water-resistant and offers good acoustic properties.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].