HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Baltimore, Maryland, USA or Virtually from your home or work.
Martin Krus , Speaker at Materials Science Conferences
Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, Germany
Title : Sustainable building material made from bulrush with numerous unique selling points


Due to its special structural properties, the bulrush plant (Typha angustifolia) enables the production of building materials that offer a combination of insulation and load-bearing effect that is unique on the market. The suitability of the Typha leaf mass is determined by the structure of the plant. The leaves have a fiber-reinforced and stable supporting tissue, which is filled with a soft, open-cell sponge fabric. This results in both: remarkable statics and an excellent insulation effect. To produce the panels, relatively large particles are cut without fiber disruption and retaining the leaf structure. In this way, both positive properties of the plant, the strength, and the insulating effect, are transferred to the product. These particles are then bonded into panels with mineral adhesive (e.g. magnesite) using low pressure and energy. Using the procedure described above, the so-called “magnesite-bonded Typhaboard” can be produced as a building material with the following advantages. It shows excellent fire resistance and no smoldering as well as an easy processability with common tools used for working with wood. It has a natural mold resistance and therefore no additive biocides are necessary. Therefore, it can simply be composted and returned to the natural cycle.

Some pilot projects exist already, like the refurbishment of a half-timbered building in Nuremberg with energy and structural upgrading, a sauna house in Radolfzell as a timber frame construction with a 4.3 m grid and the Typha Pavilion at the EXPO Milan, which is an elementized solid construction as a self-supporting structure with molded parts. As the magnesite-bonded Typhaboard combines many construction-relevant properties (thermal insulation, statics/stiffening, fire protection, moisture protection, plaster base...) it is suitable for cost-effective element-based lightweight construction and shows good deconstructability or reuse capability (mostly screw connections).

For such production, we see the enormous advantage in the USA that there are huge natural stocks there, so the plant would not have to be cultivated first. This simplifies many things (compared to the situation in Germany) and could lead to a rapid entry into profitable building material production. There is also already a conclusive concept for the construction of a relatively small, continuously operating production plant, which can already be operated economically, which is of course scalable.

Audience Take Away Notes:

  • Knowledge of a new sustainable building material
  • Possibility of using local occurrences of Typha angustifolia
  • Multipurpose material to simplify construction and prevent damage


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Krus studied chemical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe, graduating with a degree in engineering. He joined the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in 1985 and has been working on the subject of moisture protection ever since. His responsibilities include building material development and testing in the field as well as hygrothermal calculations. He received his PhD from the University of Stuttgart in 1995 and in 2015, he was appointed honorary professor. He is also strongly committed to environmental protection with the development of building materials from renewable raw materials.