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Company Revamps Adding Hemp to Concrete

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

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In a search for viable concrete reinforcement materials, Canadian Greenfield Technologies dug into the potential of hemp fiber and developed NForce-Fiber, an additive that both reinforces concrete and prevents cracking.

During the process of testing different materials, the research team found that while hemp was the additive they wanted, what was available on the market wasn’t up to snuff.

Concrete Additive

Mike Pildysh, a registered engineer in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, started the company in 2012. Working with his team, Pildysh discovered that bast fibers—the desirable part of hemp that could be used to reinforce concrete—wasn’t up to par because of the extensive cleaning process needed to separate the bast from the hurd, which are shorter, less desirable fibers.

The company solved this problem by creating HempTrain decorticator technology, a faster, more cost-efficient method to process hemp. Canadian Greenfield Technologies’ first decorticator plant was opened in 2016, and the company is ready to sell the tech to interested parties.

Canadian Greenfield Technologies

In a search for viable concrete reinforcement materials, Canadian Greenfield Technologies dug into the potential of hemp fiber and developed NForce-Fiber, an additive that boths reinforces concrete and prevents cracking.

The fiber is treated to be compatible with concrete to help prevent it from breaking down, absorbing too much water or altering mix design, and is sold in one-pound bags that can be thrown into both wet and dry concrete mixes. Companion additive NForce Pro is designed for use in decorative concrete. According to the company, NForce Pro can also be added to shotcrete, which helps prevent fiber from separating from the mix as it’s being shot.

“It’s very pumpable and adhesive, so you could spray bands of up to eight feet tall at one time, without having the product settle,” said Stephen Christensen, vice president and general manager of Canadian Greenfield Technologies.

To date, clients have used the additive in projects such as skate parks, pools and decorative projects. To expand its product reach, the company had the material tested by third-party firms. Now, it’s being used to construct bobsled and luge tracks for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“We were originally recommended but turned down as an unknown technology,” said Christensen. “The selected mix design was then trialed and it cracked like crazy. When they tried the [fiber] that we sent along, those problems went away. We recently sent the first shipment of 360 [pounds] of NForce-Fiber to China, which is definitely a feather in our cap.”

   

Tagged categories: Additives; Building materials; concrete; Research and development

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