A new Perth-based company has committed to building a sustainable 10-star microhome to demonstrate the feasibility of its new hemp-based building panels, and boost the country’s emerging hemp industry.
Mirreco, which incorporated in April this year and is in capital raise mode, has been in planning phase for several years. It has now designed a specialised machine for the manufacture of hemp building panels that cuts processing and curing times from 4-5 weeks to under an hour.
As part of demonstrating the new technology to industry, the company will create a prototype “mini-smart home”, which will feature a number of sustainable technologies and use hemp-based floors, walls, partitioning and roofing.
The home is being designed by Arcforms to be cost-effective and carbon-positive, and will also include battery storage and EV car charging.
This month Mirreco also entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with WA-based solar window producer ClearVue to exclusively use ClearVue’s solarPV integrated window technology in Mirreco’s microhomes, following the successful development of the prototype.
The solar PV technology uses micro and nanoparticles in the lamination layer of the glass to deflect UV and infrared light to solar cells embedded in the glass’s margins. The glass can generate a minimum of 30 watts a square metres, with expectations that this can soon reach 50W a sq m.
ClearVue recently listed on and the ASX and commenced Australian Standards certification testing of its glass product so it can be sold commercially.
Mirreco chief executive Rich Evans told The Fifth Estate the prototype was expected to be the first in the world to use the energy-generating glazing system.
Other partners include Schneider Electric and ASBEC.
Aside from building materials, there’s a number of other uses Mirreco has flagged for hemp, including paper, textiles, fuels, food, oils and civil infrastructure applications.
Evans says the intention is to create a “vertically integrated” business that processes hemp into a biomass material on an industrial scale and connects supply to demand. Mirreco is working with three of the biggest farming groups in Australia and expects there will be at least 40 farmers growing hemp for the company by next year.
Part of the attraction is hemp’s fast growth rate and low water consumption. Within about three months you can get a full crop, Evans says.
“From seed we can deliver housing within about five months.”
There’s plans for the prototype to evolve too – Evans likens to an iPhone 1 – with the structural elements of the second prototype, currently timber-framed, to be replaced by “structural hemp”. And with the third iteration, expected by 2020, the intention is to be 3D-printing carbon-positive hemp houses.
Currently Mirreco is undergoing a capital raise, and has recently appointed a finance director to help manage the process. All up there’s a “lean team” of about 10 supported by external researchers.
Mirreco’s prototype home is currently going through detailed engineering and design, with fabrication expected to begin in the next three months, with the completed product expected to be launched before Christmas.