The growing market for Miscanthus construction materials
This March we attended the Futurebuild show with Natural Building Systems to showcase the Miscanthus building materials we are developing. We caught up with our operations director, Alex Robinson, to find out more about the potential for this exciting new market…
You attended Futurebuild show recently, can you tell us what Miscanthus building prototype materials you had at the event?
We had some Miscanthus fibre board, made only days before the event. Some Miscanthus concrete made by Econcreed. And some acoustic panels made by Mogu, these are Miscanthus with a mycelium binder that grows between the fibres.
When are these prototypes going to be made commercially?
The Econcreed is already in commercial production and we are trialling the fibre board with Natural Building Systems and hope to have a commercial product very soon.
You shared a stand with Natural Building Systems, what do they do and are you collaborating with them?
Natural Building Systems develops housing materials that are all naturally derived and sustainable, and we are hoping to work on some projects which we can announce soon.
What was the reception for Miscanthus building materials at the show?
We had a fantastic reception at the show, from architects, design students, material producers and construction companies to name a few. Everyone has heard of hemp, but not many have heard of Miscanthus. They seemed to be astounded that it was a crop that can grow for 20+ years without needing fertilisers etc. Hemp has long fibres, so it’s better for some uses, which are mostly textile-based, but for most construction products hemp is utilised in, Miscanthus can do the same job, if not better.
What is your prediction for Miscanthus as a feedstock for construction material manufacture?
We see Miscanthus has a massive potential impact to make the construction industry net zero, from building houses with bales, through to concretes, blocks, boards, insulation, and render. The options are almost endless. The main USP it has to offer is its carbon credentials. The crop being perennial and having virtually no inputs means it’s storing carbon every year it grows. If the biomass is utilised with fixed carbon products as opposed to energy from combustion the carbon savings are massive. We believe it’s a feedstock with a lot to offer the sector.