Feds just awarded $ 100,000 to a company that makes sustainable hemp bricks
Most of the current hype surrounding America’s legal hemp industry has centered on CBD, Delta-8-THC, and other cannabinoids, but new companies continue to find creative uses for this amazing plant.
Earth Merchant, a small Washington-based company, has just received a $ 100,000 grant from the EPA to help develop sustainable bricks made from industrial hemp. The company’s new OlogyBricks are designed to replace traditional building blocks made of concrete or other traditional materials.
The EPA recently awarded grants to Earth Merchant and 23 other companies as part of its Small Business Innovation Research Program. This is not the first government grant to fund industrial hemp research, but it is the largest to date. In 2019, the EPA awarded around $ 12,000 to researchers studying the use of hemp as a renewable fiber for construction.
The EPA’s official grant statement describes the OlogyBricks as “durable, lightweight, carbon-negative building blocks made from industrial hemp, lime and hemp derivatives for superior heat resistance and mechanical properties that improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality in single-family homes and other architectural applications. “
These hemp concrete blocks are made entirely in the US using industrial hemp that is legally grown under the auspices of the Farm Bill 2018. The EPA states that hemp can be grown without pesticides or fertilizers and requires less water than crops like cotton or corn. The specific formulation of these hemp bricks can also help reduce water absorption and structural swelling compared to traditional bricks.
“Building OlogyBrick can improve health outcomes for residents,” the statement said. “Because of the properties of the lime, hempcrete is antifungal and antimicrobial, which reduces the risk of bacteria in the air. At the same time, it is vapor-permeable, facilitates the exchange of air and offers a breathable structure for improved indoor air quality without impairing thermal resistance. “
The idea of hemp-based bricks has emerged earlier, but as part of a far more conservative agenda. As early as 2019, Trump’s buddy Steve Bannon tried to finance a border wall made of hemp. The crowdfunding attempt failed but generated positive press about the innovative use of hemp concrete as a substitute for concrete and steel.
Innovators are also using hemp for a variety of other green projects, including renewable bioplastics. So far, these hemp-based plastics have been used to make sustainable weed packaging, filaments for 3D printers, and even hemp toothbrushes. Italian farmers have also found a way to use hemp plants to naturally cleanse contaminated soil by pulling heavy metals and other toxins out of the soil.