Hemp hits new high as building material
on Dutch bridge
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[January 23, 2017]
By Jim Drury
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (Reuters) - While
plenty of cannabis goes up in smoke in coffee shops around the
Netherlands, Dutch researchers have found a new use for it - as an
environmentally friendly building material to rival cement or steel.
They have used hemp - a variety of cannabis which has many industrial
applications including in textiles and insulation - and flax - the plant
that linen is made of - to make an experimental footbridge to test the
materials' load-bearing properties.
"Actually it's the first 'bio-based' bridge in the world, as far as we
know," said Rijk Blok, an assistant professor of structural design at
the Eindhoven University of Technology.
The hemp and flax fibers are combined in a resin that is stuck to a core
made of polylactic acid, a polymer also made of plant material, to form
the span of the 14-metre (46-foot) bridge over a stream on the
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The developers - at several Dutch colleges and companies - are using
sensors to monitor the bridge's performance as people walk and run
over it for a year.
They first had to demonstrate that the bridge could withstand a load
of 500 kilograms per square meter in laboratory stress tests before
building permission was granted.
"This was our research - trying to find out: Can they be used in a
structural load-bearing capacity? And this bridge is the proof,"
(Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
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