Programs for the complex utilization of hemp plants in La Chanvrière de l’Aube
We should never forget that the hemp seed is merely a by-product of the hemp fiber which is the principal product delivered by hemp.
Hemp straw is composed of (approximately):
55% of hurds (medullar part),
15% of powder utilizable for « pectinic concretes »
Regarding the fibers: new opportunities in the field of plastic materials will raise as they can be utilized as a substitution of glass fibers, which are more expensive, heavier and difficult to recycle once part of a plastic material. The cooperative carried on this research through its scientific outlet AFT consecrating approximately 300 000 € per year, which corresponds to the ¼ of the total budget of this structure partnering with ARKEMA, CERA, CIBA, Solvay, Compositec, Ergom, divers companies and universities, or also with research institutes like CNRS in Grenoble and the INRA in Reims.
The cooperative La Chanvrière is directly participating to programs aiming to adapt the plant to these specific utilization purposes. For this reason it is also involved in two programs subsidized by ADEME-AGRICE:
1. « Evolution of the morphologic, histochemical, biochemical and mechanical characteristics of industrial hemp fibers during the process producing thermoplastic composites based on polypropylene and polycaprolactone in order to appreciate their effects on the final quality of produced materials » . This program is currently underway. Global budget of the project is of 379 000 € and it is realized in the partnership with AFT (Dijon) and INRA (Reims). ADEME supported the project with 65 000 €, which is covering a part of its costs. They are composed of 36 000 € for equipment costs, 256 000 € for costs of public personnel, 26 000 € for costs of private personnel and of 61000 € for operational costs.
2. « Utilization of functional proprieties of lignin-carbohydrates (LCC) naturally contained in vegetal walls in order to lubricate the hemp fibers in industrial process of compounding. The LCC will participate to the formation of an interface between polypropylene and fibers » . This program is in a starting stage. Global budget is of 403 000 € and it is realized in a partnership with AFT (Dijon), INRA (Reims) and ENSIACET (Toulouse). ADEME’s support is of 163 000 €, which is covering a part of its costs. They are composed of 25 000 € for equipment costs, 122 000 € for costs of public personnel, 81 000 € for costs of private personnel and of 175 000 € for operational costs.
Regarding the hemp hurds: apart the valorization under form of animal litter, there are two important trends:
Building industry: The Chanvrière de l’Aube is participating in the European research program Eureka with a project aimed to: « Manufacturing of hemp-lime construction blocks and of all kinds of adapted construction systems ». This program should lead to the patent registration and it is realized in collaboration with: BCB (France), ENTPE (France), EIF (Switzerland), Desmeules (Switzerland), Cirkel (Germany), Rhein Kalk (Germany), Lhoist (Belgium). Global budget of the program is of 985 000 €, of which 525 000 € are concerning French companies. Globally, this program takes into account the participation of public structures of up to 245 000 €. Concerning the private part of costs of 740 000 €, Anvar is participating with a reimbursable advance payment of an amount of 190 000 €.
Plastics industry: trials are underway in the company Faurecia in order to realize composite pieces, where incorporation of the hurds brings a real advantage in phonic isolation while keeping a good esthetical aspect.
Regarding the powder: It will be still necessary to assess its utilization, which make the object of a future research.
Source:Industries and agro resources, POLE DE COMPETITIVITE Champagne-Ardenne et Picardie (PDF - 5 MB)