OlogyBricks: High Thermal Performance Hempcrete Construction Bricks

EPA Contract Number: 68HERC21C0032
Title: OlogyBricks: High Thermal Performance Hempcrete Construction Bricks
Investigators: Engel, Gina L
Small Business: Earth Merchant
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2021 through August 31, 2021
Project Amount: $99,974
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2021) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

Description:

OlogyBricks are durable, lightweight, carbon-negative construction blocks made from industrial hemp, lime, and hemp-derivatives for superior thermal resistance and mechanical properties that will improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality in single family homes and other architectural applications.

Industrial Hemp can be grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, requires less water than crops like cotton or corn, and reaches maturity one hundred days from planting. Hemp photosynthesizes carbon dioxide with greater efficiency than trees and can be harvested twice per year, doubling the rate of carbon sequestration.

OlogyBrick’s formulation is innovative in the construct market and designed for increased tensile strength and tensile modulus properties while reducing water absorption and structural swelling with low thermal expansion and lower density than comparable reinforcing materials.

OlogyBrick construction can improve health outcomes for residents. Due to the properties of the lime, hempcrete is antifungal and antimicrobial reducing the risks of airborne bacteria while also being vapor permeable facilitating air exchange and providing a breathable structure for improved indoor air quality without compromising thermal resistance.

Each year American households spend $230 billion for energy for home heating, cooling, lighting, entertainment, and other functions accounting for 20 percent of the total energy consumption nationwide. The United States also has a severe lack of affordable housing. In some parts of the country there are fewer than 14 available homes per 100 households.

The impacts of high energy costs are more acutely felt by low-income households; bringing low- income housing up to the efficiency level of the average American home could reduce the energy cost burden of these households by 35 percent, improving economic security, comfort, and health.

OlogyBricks are highly feasible and can be produced with relatively simple machinery. All inputs will be sourced in the United States where the industrial hemp supply has blossomed following passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

OlogyBricks can be used as non-structural infill for wall systems and as façade pieces in residential and commercial construction. Through the first half of 2020, U.S. construction spending was $667.9 billion and is growing annually. Builders, developers, municipalities, and housing organizations have expressed a strong need for sustainable, energy efficient building materials like OlogyBricks that are manufactured in America and can meaningful address the climate crisis.