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Can We Build with Plants? Cabin Construction Using Green Composites

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This article discusses the construction (virtual model) of a fully green cabin using two types of green composites: those that use natural plant-based fibers with soy protein-based resin which have mechanical properties comparable to wood and wood products, and those that use liquid crystalline cellulose fibers with soy proteinbased resin which have properties comparable to high strength steel. Green composites with moderate strength were used to create molded walls and advanced green composites were used to create the load-bearing framework of the cabin. Construction with molded composites and prefabricated framework can greatly simplify traditional wood construction based on many parts or layers. Since the walls can be molded into different shapes, there are many possibilities for designing cabin shapes. The design is also modular and scalable. The article also describes the building of 3D 'FiberWall' using thin membrane-like green composites, providing fibrous texture. FiberWall design can provide not only light-filtering capabilities but also visibility control, and with added sound absorbant layers, it can also regulate sound in a space. This article exemplifies how materials scientists and architects can work collaboratively to reduce the carbon footprint through green construction.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2015

This article was made available online on 28 July 2015 as a Fast Track article with title: "Can We Build with Plants? Cabin Construction Using Green Composites".

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  • The Journal of Renewable Materials (JRM) publishes high quality peer reviewed original research on macromolecules and additives obtained from renewable/biobased resources. Utilizing a multidisciplinary approach, JRM introduces cutting-edge research on biobased monomers, polymers, additives (both organic and inorganic), their blends and composites. It showcases both fundamental aspects and new applications for renewable materials. The fundamental theories and topics pertain to chemistry of biobased monomers, macromoners and polymers, their structure-property relationship, processing using sustainable methods, characterization (spectroscopic, morphological, thermal, mechanical, and rheological), bio and environmental degradation, and life cycle analysis. Demonstration of use of renewable materials and composites in applications including adhesives, bio and environmentally degradable structures, biomedicine, construction, electrical & electronics, mechanical, mendable and self-healing systems, optics, packaging, recycling, shape-memory, and stimulus responsive systems will be presented.
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