ModCell prefabricated straw bale and hemp panels are as fire-safe as conventional materials, according to research carried out at the University of Bath

The tests were carried out on the panels which are made up of a structural timber frame infilled with straw bales or hemp and rendered with a breathable lime-based system. The same units have been used for the construction of the Balehaus@Bath, a research project into the use of renewable building materials for homes .

Researchers exposed a panel to temperatures over 1,000°C. To reach the required standard, the panel had to withstand the heat for more than 30 minutes. Over two hours later, the panel had still not failed.

ModCell is carbon negative in manufacture and the BaleHaus’ heating bills are cut by up to 85%, and CO2 emissions by 60%, the company claims.

Where possible, locally sourced materials are used to make the units. Each 3m x 3.2m panel sequesters 750kg of CO2 and has a U-value of 0.13W/m2K, nearly three times higher than the Building Regulations require.