Saturday, March 29, 2008

Building With Hemp

Imagine you get into the deeper regions of the future Urwald [ancient forest], and in that future people just don't act the way we do today. Products and methods of production in the deeper regions of the future include advanced space crafts made from highly versatile hemp fibres. Deeper into the future human habitations are build from extremely advanced hemp based products. Solar panels are designed to convert light into energy using developments based on a careful study of the photosynthetic properties of the hemp plant. Naturally, people in the future grow hemp plants out of respect to this versatile and illuminating plant being. Inside the deeper regions of the Urwald people understand that cooperation with nature provides humans with a viable future. Understanding nature provides humans with a vehicle to journey into cosmos and survive.

Is There Really a Shortage Of Wood?
The U.S. timber products industry spends millions of dollars each year promoting the idea that building with wood is an environmentally sound choice. Their ads claim that there are more trees in America today than ever before. The subtle trap is that these statistics do not differentiate between young sapwood trees and high-quality heartwood, or between diverse natural forests and single-species tree farms.

In the U.S. today, less than five percent of our original forest cover remains, and the clearcutting of old-growth forests continues. Intact forests support indigenous peoples, shelter wildlife, maintain the quality of fisheries and watersheds, conserve soil, moderate the global climate, and store much of the planet's genetic material. They may be our most important natural resource.

The construction industry uses 46 percent of the softwoods harvested in the U.S., for framing lumber and plywood, most of which comes from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. The U.S. Forest Service predicts that harvests from the Pacific Northwest have peaked and will fall steadily over the next ten years (Adams, 1994). Present demand has exceeded our forests' ability to supply lumber, even with the industry's prevailing unsustainable practices. British Columbia, however, now has one of the highest logging rates in the world: an acre of old-growth forest is clearcut every 66 seconds (Rainforest Action Network, 1995). It is imperative that we reverse this trend.

Changing the way we use wood in construction can alter the course of forest destruction, allowing us to save some forests from being turned into tree farms and preserving forest ecosystems for future generations.

Alternatives: Industrial Hemp

Building With Hemp
A variety of wood-like products, such as fiberboard, roofing tiles, wallboard, paneling, insulation and bricks, can be made from the compressed hurds. The fibers can also be used like straw in bale wall construction or with mud in a sort of modified cob style of building.

Pipes can be made out of hempcrete and they, too have greater flexibility and greater elasticity than other those made from conventional materials, and they are resistant to cracking. Stones can also be made out of hemp by wetting the stalk’s cellulose, and forming it into a hard black rock, which can be cut, drilled, cast, carved or formed into any shape.

A hemp crop can be grown without the use of herbicides or insecticides and produces up to four tonnes of material per acre per year. Hemp is categorized as a bast fiber crop. It has a stem consisting of an outer skin containing long, strong fibers and a hollow wood-like core or pith. Processing the stems results in two materials: hurds and fibers, both of which have properties that make them extremely useful in building construction. Hemp For Houses

Hemp - Building Material of The Future
Hemp has been used by mankind for thousands of years. It has always been considered a valuable raw material for clothes, paper, oil & medicine. In recent years the demand for more cost effective natural construction materials has allowed for the regeneration of the hemp industry. Since 1996 the cultivation of low-narcotic hemp has been permitted again in parts of Europe.

As hemp grows, it helps to restrict environmental pollution because it decomposes CO2. Uniquely, it also improves the ground soil as it leaves the ground loose & totally weed free. Because hemp matures to a height of 4m within 100-120 days, weeds have no chance to grow so no herbicides or pesticides are necessary during cultivation.

The increasing demand for natural construction materials is leading to a regeneration of hemp as a natural raw material. This demand has lead to the development of regional cultivation & processing, which in turn helps to provide a product that is cost effective & environmentally friendly.

Hemp is naturally anti-microbial, is resistant to mold, mildew, rot and degradation by UV-light.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Scottish DRAM Cleans Contaminated water

Whisky DRAM helps clean up contaminated water - The innovative technology – known as DRAM - has massive potential for industry as groundwater contamination is a major problem and can hold up or even prevent land development as well as being a hazard to health and the environment.

While there may be no real magic in whisky, there appears to be some alchemy in one of its by-products. A by-product from whisky production has just been shown to clean contaminated water and soil.

Whisky waste cleans contaminated water
Aberdeen University scientists have created the cleverly named DRAM (Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple pollutants). Their methods are still an official secret, but they say that the new process will revolutionize site cleanups. They will not release the name or type of the by-product they use at the moment because they plan to commercialize the product.

Current cleanup techniques can be expensive and take forever. Different types of pollution must generally be cleaned in different ways, costing extra time and money. DRAM, however, can clean up heavy metals, pesticides, and even chlorine pollution at the same time.

The scientists have said that the product is all natural, and that the by-product could be obtained from a lot of food and drink manufacturers. The current by-product was obtained from the Glenfiddich distillery on Speyside.

Soil toxicologist Dr Graeme Paton said: “Currently we are using the by-product of Scotland’s most famous export but our technology can utilize other by-products from the food and beverage industry. The clean up of contaminated groundwater is an absolutely massive global market. The technology that we have developed is environmentally friendly, sustainable and has the potential to put Scotland at the forefront for remediation technologies. It is not just the deployment that is novel but also the underpinning technology to predict the success.”

Any fast and effective environmental clean up technology would indeed stand to make a hefty profit. In the UK alone there are more than 330,000 contaminated sites, mostly the sites of disused factories and industrial buildings. Cleaning contaminated sites costs an estimated £1.2 billion every year in the UK.

Scots Clean Contaminated Land With Whisky Waste
Anyone who has sampled a drop of Scotland's national drink knows that it can have some sizable side-effects. But they are unlikely to be aware that, besides the hang over, one of the lesser known by products of Whisky production could soon be the ability to clean contaminated brownfield sites.

That is the discovery of a group of researchers at the Aberdeen University who have today announced that they have pioneered an innovative new way of cleaning contaminated ground and waste water using a by product from Glenfiddich's Speyside distillery.

The imaginatively titled Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple pollutants, or DRAM, is capable of removing a number of different pollutants from the ground at the same time, making clean up operations quicker and more cost effective.

The researchers behind the device are remaining cagey about exactly what the by product used in the process is, citing commercial factors as they consider launching a spin out company to license the device to firms involved in brownfield development.

However, one of the researchers behind the device, Dr Graeme Paton, said that the process could also utilise other byproducts from the food and beverage industry. "The clean up of contaminated groundwater is an absolutely massive global market," he added. "The technology that we have developed here at Aberdeen is environmentally friendly, sustainable and has the potential to put Scotland at the forefront for remediation technologies."

The University of Aberdeen claims there are up to 330,000 contaminated sites in the UK alone that could feasibly benefit from the new technology.