The industrial uses of hemp

Cutting-edge industries such as automotive industry, with composites made from plant fibres, and eco-construction industry, with insulating materials made from industrial hemp, have all realised that, technically, hemp has all the advantages: lightness, strength, thermal and acoustic properties.

Hemp, technical applications

The remarkable properties of hemp

  • Lightweight
    Just like linen, hemp fibers have a much lower density than glass or carbon fibers. This explains its wide range of applications in industries seeking lightness and energy efficiency. 
  • Rigid and resistant
    Surprising mechanical behavior has been observed in hemp fibers subjected to repeated external loads. Rather than exhibiting material fatigue or breaking, the fiber became even more rigid before reaching a stable value (1.6 times its initial value at 25°C). This suggests a strong accommodation effect.
    Source: V. Placet et P. Perré, Comportement mécanique des fibres de chanvre-étude expérimentale du phénomène d’accommodation sous sollicitations répétées - Mechanical behavior of hemp fibers: an experimental study of the accommodation effect under repeated loads).
  • Vibration and sound damping
    Thanks to its layered structure, hemp fibers can dampen all kinds of vibrations. This property is particularly valued in sports and leisure because it can help prevent musculoskeletal injury. But this is also true for acoustic insulation, as hemp also absorbs mechanical vibrations the air, also known as sound.

Learn more about on the study Vibration Damping in Flax & Hemp Fibre Composites

Hemp, industry multiple properties

Hemp, the star material of the industry

For almost twenty years, the thermo-mechanical processing of plant material has been used to produce crop-based materials. Made from renewable resources, they are an alternative for the environment compared with materials made of fossil fuels. Hemp is one of the most popular players in this booming niche green economy, bridging performance with green innovation.

Bio-based plastics

What are they? These are plant fibers (mostly European flax and hemp) used to reinforce a thermoplastic and thermosetting matrix. They can be found in the form of short fibers mixed with a polymer base to produce compounds (plastic granules) with non-woven hemp. Sometimes raw fibers, yarn, or even fabric is added directly to the mold before incorporating the resin matrix. These materials are also known as composites, because they include renewable elements resulting from agriculture.

These have many advantages - for instance, their lightness. This is why they are often used to build structures that must support their own weight (suspended bridges, buildings, etc.). Injected into automobile dashboards or car door reinforcement structures, they help reduce weight by 20%. Their ability to absorb vibrations, provide sound and thermal insulation is also highly prized in industry. Today, hemp-based composite materials are used in the automotive industry, object design… and this is only the beginning. 

Access to online technical platform

Green building

Panneau chanvre écoconstruction copyright Biofib'Chanvre

In Europe, the market for bio-based construction materials is growing rapidly. Hemp is used mainly in building insulation. It is valued for its thermal, acoustic, hygrothermal properties, resistance to wear and tear, and also guaranteed comfort during installation. Cannabis sativa fibers are champions of sustainable insulation. This is why they are used throughout the home, from walls to ceilings and attics, in their most diverse forms. For example, hempcrete and hemp mortar are organic composites obtained through cold molding from a mix of water, a binding agent (lime), and hemp aggregate, with natural drying. Building walls of hemp concrete on a timber frame allows carbon dioxide to be stored: 1m² of wall stores 48kg of CO2 equivalent over 100 years.
Sources Interchanvre 2022

But these precious fibers can also be found in the shape of compressed wool in soft or semi-rigid panels, loose fibers for injection, felt (layer beneath hardwood floors) or wall coverings.

Learn more about hemp

  • Uses of hemp fibers in the textile field

    The textile applications of hemp

    Read more
  • view of hemp leaves in a field
    copyright Alliance P. Sagnes

    All about hemp

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  • Hemp throughout history

    Hemp growing and expertise

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  • Hemp cutting
    copyright Valbiom

    Co-constructing a European textile hemp industry

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