The stalk of the hemp plant is a rapidly renewable, carbon sequestering, eco-friendly resource that has been used by mankind for centuries. The plant is grown, processed, refined and engineered to certain specifications for use in a myriad of applications and industries from construction to textiles.
Hemp is a bast fiber.
The stalk of a hemp plant is made up of a tough outer layer (fiber), inner woody core (hurd) and a hollow center (pith). Other bast fibers include flax and kenaf.
The outer layer of the hemp stalks provides strength and rigidity during the life of the plant and these characteristics translate to many beneficial attributes after the life of the plant. Its natural tensile strength and low-weight make it a rapidly renewable, environmentally-conscience substitute for cotton, timber and synthetic fibers. Hemp fiber is often used to provide performance enhancements in composites, nonwovens, and compounding/bio-composite applications.
The inner woody core of the hemp plant is called the hurd (also known as shiv or shive). During it's life the core of the hemp plant is used to transport the tiny nutrients the plant absorbs and it has lots of little capillaries to do so. These small veins of the plant give the hurd material unique properties after it has been properly retted and processed. The versatile, absorbent material is often used as a bio-filler in plastic composites but it can also provide benefits in applications such as compounding, pulping, animal bedding and a building material.