Need another reason to make the switch to hemp as a sustainable source of fiber? The plant is currently being used as a luge and bobsled track reinforcement at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. The Olympic Games Beijing 2022 began on February 4 with the opening ceremonies and will run through February 20.
The plan has been in motion for some time, according to reports. Beginning nearly four years ago, Calgary, Alberta-based processor Canadian Greenfield Technologies (CGT) in Canada began delivering over 60,000 pounds of its NForce-Fiber for use in competition luge and bobsled tracks during the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The move by CGT at the Winter Olympics has implications for the usefulness of hemp fibers in future industrial projects. “Undoubtedly, the usage of a hemp-based, highly technological product in such a high profile project brings awareness of the enormous potential for industrial hemp,” Vice President and General Manager of CGT told High Times.
CGT announced the plan back on May 9, 2018 in a press release, describing the properties of the NForce-Fiber®, which is being used to strengthen concrete used in bobsled and luge tracks. The Vancouver Sun reports that it has been proven to be superior in performance to plastic and glass fiber in concrete, something cannabis advocates have been claiming for a while now.
“A unique product world-wide, NForce-Fiber® demonstrated its high performance in numerous applications requiring concrete with superior integrity and surface quality. It has been specified for this project by an international team of engineering and construction experts,” CGT stated.
The company continued, “NForce-Fiber® is a unique, high-performance, concrete reinforcement fiber manufactured from the world’s strongest and most durable natural fiber—industrial hemp fiber. Tested and verified by independent, world renowned concrete experts, NForce-Fiber® is ASTM/CSA compliant and has been featured in Shotcrete magazine, the leading publication of the shotcrete industry.”
The Calgary-based company sent a massive amount of its hemp fibers product to be used to replace plastic fibers as a concrete strengthener, Hemp Industry Daily first reported earlier in February.
The company also sells hemp-derived fiber for outdoor construction projects that use sprayed concrete, or Shotcrete, as the fibers strengthen the concrete. Greenfield Technologies also makes consumer hemp products such as cat litter or hemp-derived potting soil.
On February 1, CGT sold its hemp-products division to HEMPALTA, a recently-formed company also based in Calgary. CGT retains its NForce-Fiber products and its business selling proprietary fiber processing equipment. Darren Bondar, former CEO of cannabis retailer Spirit Holdings Ltd., will lead the company.
In general, CGT processes hemp using its HempTrain™ Advanced Processing System— a complete, whole plant hemp processing solution. The company’s machines are capable of separating baled hemp straw, round or square, fresh/green or dry, into high-volume, high-value products, according to the website. The company also uses a specialized Hemp Bale Processor that has been engineered specifically to work with the plant.
Hemp as a Fiber
Hemp continues to demonstrate multiple uses as a fuel, fiber, and source of food. Sturdy structures made from the plant could be the future eco-conscious building, High Times reported in the past. While hempcrete is exciting, it will take time to enter mainstream rebuilding projects. Costs remain high and regulations prevent hemp from becoming viable for most projects, so it is likely to remain a costly niche option for sustainable endeavors. Therefore, current rebuilding efforts in the U.S. or elsewhere are unlikely to include hempcrete.
Domestic hemp typically costs between $100 to $200 per square meter, depending on the company. While you can save money by making your own hempcrete from unprocessed hurds, the cost of labor and additional effort often makes this option unworthy for most.
In addition, cannabinoid testing and the hemp’s exclusion from some building codes makes it a challenge, not to mention crop testing and the THC threshold hemp must abide by.