Characterization of Barley Straw, Hemp Shiv and Corn Cob as Resources for Bioaggregate Based Building Materials

Aurélie Laborel-Préneron, Camille Magniont, Jean Emmanuel Aubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (SciVal)


Expanding the use of low-environmental impact materials in the field of building materials is a major aim in a context of sustainable development. These alternative materials should be non-polluting, eventually recycled, and locally available. Bioresources are already used in some building materials but few studies have investigated their relevance in such applications. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the suitability of three kinds of vegetal aggregates: barley straw, hemp shiv and corn cob. The availability of these bioresources, extracted from a French database, is discussed, as are their physical properties and chemical compositions. Their microstructure is described with SEM images and their particle size distributions are provided through image analysis. Sorption–desorption isotherms are measured by a Dynamic Vapour Sorption system. Bulk density, thermal conductivity and water absorption are also quantified. The results highlight a tubular structure for the three different aggregates, with low bulk density and thermal conductivity (0.044, 0.051 and 0.096 W m−1 K−1 respectively for straw, hemp shiv and corn cob) and high water absorption, especially for barley straw and hemp shiv (414 and 380% vs. 123% for corn cob). Their hygric regulation capacity is also sufficiently good, with a water sorption of between 20 and 26% at 95% of relative humidity. These plant aggregates could therefore be used as additions in an earth matrix, or a hydraulic, pozzolanic, air lime or gypsum binder, or just as loose-fill insulation material. However, future research should focus on their resistance to fire and bacterial growth to validate this approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1112
Number of pages18
JournalWaste and Biomass Valorization
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Availability
  • Barley straw
  • Bio-based building material
  • Corn cob
  • Hemp shiv
  • Properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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