Building the world’s first miscanthus bale house!

Wednesday, 30th August 2017


Low carbon manager, Dr Judith Thornton, featured on the BBC Wales news today as she helped build the first ever miscanthus bale house near Machynlleth, Powys. Working with the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), Judith is exploring the potential to use miscanthus or Asian elephant grass as a building material.

Straw bales have been used to build houses for hundreds of years, and are typically formed by stacking rows of bales on a raised footing within a timber frame, which are then lime-plastered or rendered to prevent water penetration.

Miscanthus bales are now being used in similar fashion at Machynlleth to trial the bioenergy crop as a carbon-negative, green and sustainable building material. Miscanthus has excellent insulation properties and can lock in carbon, significantly reducing the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere, a contributory factor in global warming. A typical house can emit as much as 50 tonnes of CO2, but miscanthus has the potential to decarbonize the building industry.

Dr Thornton commented that in the future pre-fabricated panels of miscanthus could be produced for use in the construction industry, as well as loft insulation and fibreboards.

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