Development of bio-based, low carbon and low cost building materials with improved thermal and acoustic properties

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths


In the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, Member States committed themselves to reducing GHG by 20% by 2020, raising this commitment in 2011 and targeting a reduction of GHG by 80-95% by 2050 (compared to 1990 level). The EU built environment is responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions.
Miscanthus x Giganteus is a crop with a high yield (15 t/ha). It is a sustainable, fast growing, non-invasive, perennial energy crop. It can grow in degraded land and has phytostabilisation properties. It has a range of applications from land restoration to carbon sequestration, utilisation of fibres, energy production, and potential utilisation of ashes in a fully circular approach. Miscanthus fibres are a very promising source for developing novel, low cost, low carbon bio-based building materials with improved insulation properties, in line with the Clean Growth Grand Challenge and the GW4 community "Circular economy for affordable, low-carbon secondary raw materials" submitted to the Initiator Fund Round 10.
The project aims at the development of building materials harvesting the full potential of miscanthus fibres. Although some applications have already been identified, the project will investigate the properties of each component of miscanthus product, listing possible end-products and prioritizing thosewith higher potential for commercial deployment in short to medium term. Building on available experience on "hempcrete", concrete-like materials will be developed investigating parameters such as fibre dimensions, binder content, curing conditions, and optimization of mix proportions. In order to improve the eco-profile of the product, binders different from Portland cement will be considered, such as lime and a new class of binders called geopolymers. Preliminary work carried out by CASE partners on the production of miscanthus fibreboards will be further developed and the potential of fibreboard alone and composite sandwich-like structures will be investigated. The project will determine production parameters and will assess technical properties of developed materials (e.g. achievable mechanical strength, thermal conductivity), along with preferred fields of application. In-depth LCA and and LCC analysis will allow to determine the eco-profile of the developed products and their appeal on the building material market, using existing off-shelf products as benchmark for targeted comparison.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/R011621/1 30/09/2017 31/01/2023
2126556 Studentship NE/R011621/1 01/12/2018 29/09/2022