A catalog of non-toxic building materials.
Monday, June 12, 2006
An interesting new use for straw as a building material has emerged recently in the form of a system called Strawjet, now being developed at Ashland School of Environmental Technology. The use of straw bale for non-toxic housing has tended to be tricky due to the problem of residual pesticides on on all non-organic agricultural products and the need for great care in preventing any possibility of mold or pest intrusion in the rendering encapsulating the straw bales. This new technology offers a new form of straw construction that may reduce these problems, though at present much more field experience is needed to determine its non-toxic housing potential.
Strawjet is based on the use of a special winding and binding mechanism which allows a harvester to produce a continuous thick cable of dense compressed straw fiber which is woven into composite panels and pultruded into beams with a cementous encapsulant. Individual cable cores can be replaced with pipe to serve as in-wall or in-beam utility conduits. Some very interesting architecture has been proposed for this technology, though not yet demonstrated. All in all, a promising technology but still in its very early stages of development.