Innovation That Matters

Kenaf, or Hibiscus cannabinus, is easy to cultivate and absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide, making it a great choice for use in building materials and bioplastics | Photo source Yancy Min on Unsplash

Bio-based construction materials made from ancient Kenaf plant

Property & Construction

An Israeli company is using kenaf, along with hemp, to derive materials such as thermal insulating plaster, masonry blocks and walls

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Spotted: The engineering industry is becoming increasingly interested in finding sustainable and chemical-free alternatives to traditional building materials. Israeli company Kenaf Ventures believes it may have found an answer in the Kenaf plant, which is a member of the hibiscus family and is related to cotton and okra. They have been using kenaf, along with hemp, to derive bio-based construction materials such as thermal insulating plaster, masonry blocks and walls.

The company extracts fibres similar to jute, along with oil, from the kenaf flower. The fibres are then used as an eco-friendly alternative to minerals and synthetic compounds in a range of products. The fibres act as a natural and biodegradable filler in masonry and insulation materials, which can be up to 80 per cent kenaf. 

Kenaf offers a range of benefits and advantages over traditional materials. It is lightweight and has high thermal and sound insulating properties. It also takes less energy and water to pulp Kenaf than to pulpwood. It is easy to cultivate and takes less water to grow than comparable plants and can absorb large quantities of CO2 as it grows. On top of this, kenaf can also absorb large amounts of heavy metals and other pollutants from soil and water. It has been used to clean up after oil spills, thanks to its ability to draw tar from the water. 

Kenaf Ventures has also combined kenaf plants with thermoplastic polymers to create a composite plastic that can be used as a substitute for common products made of petroleum-derived plastic, such as ABS, PP, PE, HDPE and PVC. According to the company, “We create a composite that meets environmental goals and demand from end-users for more sustainable solutions, as well as helping our partners meet regulatory requirements and their recycling targets.”

Bio-plastics and plant-based materials are seeing outstanding growth, as innovators race to develop new products from plants and waste materials. Some of the many new products we have seen recently here at Springwise include bioplastic packaging made from slaughterhouse waste and a host of seaweed-based bioplastics.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

Explore more: Property & Construction Innovations | Sustainability Innovations



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