Building Bridges with Bio-Composites; and, The Italian Way

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The use of hemp-based bio-composites for outdoor structures is among the topics to be explored at the 13th annual European Industrial Hemp Association’s international conference June 1-2 in Germany.

Michael Verhoeckx, of the Avans University of Applied Sciences, Breda, Holland, will talk about design and construction projects for pedestrian and cycling bridges currently underway in The Netherlands.

“As far as we can tell, these will be the first bio-based bio-composite bridges made worldwide using only natural fibers like hemp and flax combined with a bio-based resin,” Verhoeckx said. Application of natural fibers give bio-composites unique qualities, but also result in many design challenges, he noted.

Italian strategy

In another key presentation, Gianpaolo Grassi, of Italy’s CREA-CIN research organization in Rovigo, Italy will discuss Italy’s strategies for hemp breeding and production, and the Italian government’s approach to hemp industry regulation.

He’ll also give an update on Italian breeding programs for new hemp varieties that could offer farmers opportunities to produce alternative hemp products.

He notes that while Italy has a long history in the hemp industry, it’s only recently that interest has grown in producing cannabinoid extracts.

That interest is reflected in another presentation from Italy that will address hemp residue as a source of value-added compounds by Davide Calzolari, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, (UCSC).

He’ll present research from “Multihemp,” a European Commission funded effort that is probing multi-purpose strategies for growing and processing hemp.

“The rising interest in non-psychotropic cannabinoids, essential oils and other secondary metabolites has opened the way for other, high added value, applications of hemp products,” he said.

World’s biggest grower

Xiong Heping, Tang Shouwei & Wang Yu Fu of the Chinese Institute of Bast Fiber Crops at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, will present research on the use of bast fiber as livestock forage in China and give an overview of the world’s single biggest hemp-growing market.

Christopher Hudalla, Pro Verde Laboratories, USA, will address the use of state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation and methods in his presentation, “Using Supercritical Fluids for the Extraction, Analysis and Purification of Cannabis/Hemp-based Natural Therapeutics.”

Such applications can help optimize cultivation and manufacturing processes while giving precise control over the cannabinoid profiles and dosing for consumer products, Hudalla noted.

Harvesting, building

Marijn Roersch van der Hoogte,  Hanffaser Uckermark at Prenzlau, Germany will present results of a crowdfunding project aimed at developing a hemp seed harvesting machine, and will give an overview of the Hanffaser Uckermark industrial-sized hemp processing factory.

In the hemp building sector, Sylvestre Bertucelli, Interchanvre, France, and Fred van der Burgh of Stichting Agrodome, Holland, will give updates on their national markets.

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