Darshil Shah is a researcher at the University of Cambridge. According to his work, hemp would capture atmospheric carbon twice as efficiently as the trees that inhabit forests, while offering ecological biomaterials to architects!
Hemp, as useful as trees
For Shah, industrial hemp is much more efficient than trees, because it is able to absorb between 8 and 15 tonnes of CO² per hectare of crop. For their part, forests only capture 2 to 6 tonnes of CO² per hectare and per year. This number may vary depending on their age, region, type of trees, etc.
Shah also specifies that bioplastics and building materials made from the hemp plant have a low carbon content: in the long term, they could thus be used to replace certain composites, in particular those made of glass fibers or aluminum. .
As such, the Center for Natural Material Innovation, which is part of the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge, is currently carrying out research on biomaterials, with the aim of rethinking the way we build, and to arrive at zero carbon emissions.
Shah notably studies engineered wood, bamboo and natural fiber composites, but also hemp. For him, the latter embodies “a versatile culture, which offers materials and resources in multiple forms. ”
As a reminder, hemp is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant. It is characterized by its very low levels of THC, compared to the variety of marijuana.
A plant of the future
Hemp is far from being reduced to its superior efficiency to trees in the fight against CO2. Indeed, Shah explains that today, hemp is used more and more frequently for the manufacture of bioplastics, biofuels, as well as for products containing CBD, which are known for their many health benefits. Thanks to the fibers both rigid and strong that make up the outside of its stem, hemp can be used in particular to create automotive parts, wind turbine blades or cladding panels.
For example, for bioplastic hemp cladding panels, it was found that they could constitute a good alternative to traditional aluminum panels, made of bitumen plastic and galvanized steel: in fact, hemp-based panels are not require only 15 to 60% of the energy necessary for their production!
Unlike conventional agriculture, which produces very large amounts of carbon every day, hemp farms emit very low amounts. While agricultural land in the United Kingdom emits an average of 3 tonnes of CO² per hectare annually, hemp appears to be the ideal alternative for cultivating a better future, as it produces more usable fiber per hectare.