Last Update: Tuesday, March 4, 2008. 1:07pm AEDT
Klara Marosszeky is a licensed industrial hemp researcher who has been working with University of New South Wales since 2003.
According to Marosszeky, "We've developed the material for blocks, sprayed walls, panels and in-fill... so we have a range of products that could go ahead if we were allowed to grow hemp in NSW."
Commercial production of industrial hemp is permitted under legislation in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, ACT and Western Australia.
In September 1995, the New South Wales Government announced that field trials of low-THC hemp would be authorised in NSW. The first trial was sown in October 1995 and there have been trials in each spring and summer since that time. (THC is the psychoactive component in hemp/cannabis).
But hemp can not be legally grown in NSW.
Marosszeky says, "It's commercial in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia but not in NSW. A lot of the knowledge and research is in NSW and we can't grow fibre."
"So we have an incredibly sustainable product that creates a carbon sink when you build a house out of it. So it takes out carbon when you're growing, then locks it in to the wall and we are going to be trucking it from Western Australia which really isn't a logical thing to be doing," she says.
The process of turning hemp fibre into suitable building material is where Klara Marosszeky gets passionate about her work.
"The herd of a hemp stem reacts with lime based materials and starts to petrify, so it turns from a fibre into a mineral. It can be very commercially competitive... a lot of the work at the University of NSW was getting to a commercially competitive model because I realised there was no point in having a sustainable product that cost an awful lot to build with," Marosszeky said.
The chemical reaction enables the material to set like cement naturally but with more flexibility and less weight. The material breathes and provides an ideal mould free environment with a modern look.
President of the Nimbin Hemp Embassy Michael Balderstone was delighted to see Klara building a section of a hemp wall inside the Embassy.
"It will be enlightening for most of the estimated 100,000 visitors per year who walk through our doors. Klara will also be at this year's MardiGrass on May 3 and 4 where we plan to have a hands on HEMP EXPO where people can mould their own creations from industrial hemp as well as see hemp paper being made and handle hemp blocks. It looks like being an exciting gathering of people working with hemp in its various commercial forms."