Construction industry

The conventional construction sector is one of the largest consumer of raw materials. It is estimated that, globally, buildings consume:

– 50 % of all resources
– 45 % cent of energy, for heating, cooling and lighting of buildings, and 5 % during construction
– 40 % of water for sanitation and other uses
– 60 % of prime agricultural land
– 70 % of timber products

Biocomposites are one of the main materials that are being used in the green materials and building movement worldwide. These are being promoted also as an replacement for the synthetic fibre reinforced composites, which tend to use petroleum-based materials.

Due to the environmental pollution caused by widespread use of petroleum based matrices and polymers, natural and biodegradable matrices like polysaccharides, starch, cellulose, chitin, proteins, collagen/gelatin, casein, lignin, lipids, polyhydroalkanoates, and shellac are being used. These completely natural biocomposites are considered to be useful for short life-cycles or for one-off use.

Miscanthus is most popular in the production of medium density fibre board, that is a type of particleboard, with uses in construction, furniture (for indoor and outdoor use). It has also been traditionally used for thatching in Japan.

A research group in Canada has found that making a biocomposite with poly(butylene succinate) (PBS) and 50 wt% Miscanthus fibre resulted in 22, 139 and 47% improvement in tensile, flexural and impact strength compared to neat PBS. The new biocomposite has superior mechanical and thermo-mechanical properties.

Source: AgriKinetics