Hempcrete - Dr Ailar Hajimohammadi ABC radio interview

Hempcrete CIES academic Dr Ailar Hajimohammadi is an expert researcher in the field of sustainable and resilient construction materials, investigating advanced materials for sustainable infrastructure, and how we can better manage waste minimization and resource recovery in the civil and construction industries.

The building and construction sectors combined are responsible for over one-third of global final energy consumption and nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions. The challenges are great but so are the opportunities for greener construction.

One of Dr Hajimohammadi’s current areas of interest is the possibilities of hempcrete, an innovative building material which can replace timber and concrete in many building applications such as wall boards, insulation panels, bricks and roofing tiles. Homes built from it will have significant lower heating and cooling costs, as well as offering a much lighter build for transporters and builders.

Hempcrete is a mixture of hemp hurds (the woody interior of stalks of the hemp plant), lime, and water. It is termite resistant, breathable, thermally efficient, with very good acoustic values and is fire resistant. Since it comes from a plant source and it can absorb carbon dioxide during the curing of the product, its carbon footprint is much lower than that of brick and concrete, requiring much less energy to produce, to build with and to dispose of.

Due to its relative newness in Australia, hemp homes can currently be more expensive to build than traditional homes, as knowledge of the new technology has not yet become widespread in the construction industry. That will change however, as home-grown plant production increases as will builders’ skills. Dr Hajimohammadi is keen to assist the fledging industry with further research into the properties, service life, load limits and additional uses of hempcrete.

Hempcrete has been used in France since the early 1990s, and more recently in Canada, to construct non-weight bearing insulating infill walls, as hempcrete does not have the requisite strength for constructing foundations. While it cannot build all of a house, hempcrete can play a huge role in creating liveable, beautiful and carbon-negative structures.

Dr Hajimohammadi recently spoke about the phenomenon of hempcrete on ABC Radio with Sirine Demachkie.

For more information contact Dr Hajimohammadi on ailar.hm@unsw.edu.au




Dr HajimohammadiAbout Dr Hajimohammadi
Ailar received her PhD on sustainable cementitious materials from the University of Melbourne in 2011. She worked in the international technology company AspenTech for four years (2011-2015) where she gained experience in industry consultation and training. Three years of postdoctoral research followed at the Infrastructure Engineering Department, University of Melbourne (2015-2018) before joining UNSW’s Centre for Infrastructure, Engineering & Safety (CIES). Ailar’ s research examines the chemistry of materials to develop innovative construction elements with attractive properties. She is also investigating waste management and resource recovering strategies towards circular economy in civil and construction projects.

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