Hemp CoLab seeks to advance scholarship in hemp-based construction by developing structural applications for this material.

Research Areas

  • Hemp-Clay Composites

    Hemp-Clay Composites

    This research explores the viability of using clay as a binder in hemp-based building composites. The research will compare the mechanical and thermal performance of hemp-clay composites with those of hemp-lime (hempcrete) composites. 

  • Hemp Fiber Composites

    Hemp Fiber Composites

    The production of the binders commonly used in hemp fiber-based composites such as polymers contributes over 60% of their total environmental impact. This research focuses the development of hemp-fiber composites as a sustainable alternative to widely available synthetic fiber composites which often employ formaldehyde binders. The research explores alternative additives such as paper pulp, casein, and soybean protein.

  • Life-Cycle Assessment

    Life-Cycle Assessment

    This research comprises a techno-economic assessment (TEA) to understand how the hemp-based building materials would compare to conventional construction materials. Systems boundaries includes all life-cycle stages of the hemp products, namely. The analysis is geospatially explicit, assessing realistic travel distances for raw feedstocks and finished products within Virginia and beyond.

  • Composites Reinforced with Hemp Nanocellulose

    Composites Reinforced with Hemp Nanocellulose

    Plant-based nano materials, as cost-effective and sustainable materials, can provide advantageous material characteristics when included in polymer or cement composites. This research investigates the extraction of micro- and nano-cellulose such as cellulose microfibers, cellulose nanocrystals, and cellulose nanofibrils from hemp stalks and their effects on mechanical, thermal, and/or rheological properties of composite materials.