Since receiving not one, but two IGEM grants, the University of Idaho (UI) and industry partner Hempitecture have hit many milestones over the last year.

Hempitecture manufactures plant-based building materials utilizing the husk of hemp stalks to produce building products such as HempWool.

Since receiving the initial $206,624 grant award, the focus of the university’s research has been testing the fire retardancy and thermal insulation of HempWool. UI’s Integrated Design Lab (UI IDL), located in Boise, focused on the thermal resistance analysis whereas the Moscow team focused on the fire-retardant research.

Recently, the team hit a milestone regarding its fire retardancy tests, receiving a Class A ranking, the highest ranking on a litmus test for fire retardant materials.

Additionally, through this partnership with UI, the school was able to purchase a thermal testing apparatus, which will be a new piece of equipment for UI IDL.

With the new testing apparatus, the company was able to gain more insight into the thermal resistance of HempWool.

To support this important research, UI was awarded a supplemental grant for $106,175. This supplemental grant will support the research of antimicrobial and mold-resistant properties of the insulation and provide a carbon footprint analysis.

In addition to making strides in research, the company also had a monumental year in acquiring funding, raising $4.7 million in its first crowdfunding seed round, bringing together 1,800 people.

The company’s manufacturing facility is well underway and will commission the line shortly to begin production of insulation products in Idaho.

Hempitecture’s team will also be growing, doubling its staff by the end of this year to nearly 12 employees.

“We are really thankful for Idaho Commerce and its support,” Hempitecture founder Mattie Mead said. “We get to continue our research into the future, which is exciting because that affords us the opportunity to take this research and bring it to the industrial real-world full-scale level. It has been a great year of working with the team and I feel like we are actually picking up momentum and inertia moving forward.”