Hemp, an Efficient Biofuel Waiting Its Moment
With the increasing destruction of our planet it has never been more important that we look for a sustainable alternative to oil as a fuel. One choice is a biofuel made out of hemp, so let's use it!
Hemp is a remarkable plant for many reasons: the seeds of a hemp plant are one of the protein-rich foods we have, you can make paper out of it, extract CBD-oil, use it as a building material, make textiles out of it, and so on. Another really important use of hemp that you can add to this list is the production of an efficient biofuel. This cannot be overlooked in a time when we are destroying our planet in the search for more crude oil, and relying on it to power industry. Humanity's alternative to crude oil is long overdue. We need a sustainable and environment-friendly commodity that can replace oil and help us to save and regenerate our surroundings. The solution is right in front of us and should not be ignored due to its incredible potential. This option is hemp!
A HARD TIME FOR BIOFUELS
Although biofuels have a hard time at the moment - due to the criticism that they do more harm to nature than they actually help (which is true to most of them) - the one biofuel feedstock that's not often mentioned, despite its potential, is hemp. As opposed to more traditional biofuel feedstocks like corn, soybeans, rapeseeds, and palm oil, hemp has many benefits that make it superior to all of the other choices.
HEMP IS ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
Growing hemp is more environmentally friendly than any of the other mentioned crops. When you grow hemp, you don't have to clear the land, so you don't have to cut down rainforests for it to flourish like it is done for palm oil. Moreover, you leave the ground in a better condition after harvesting than before hemp was planted, as it puts a lot back into the soil. Besides this, it requires a lot less water and fertilisers than the other biofuel feedstocks. Around 70% of the nutrient requirements return to the soil during and after the growth cycle. It is also worth noting, hemp only needs half the amount of water per growing season than corn – a crop farmed on a vast scale.
Furthermore, the actual biofuel is much cleaner than our current options. Fuel made from hemp is biodegradable and does not produce the same toxic chemicals when burnt. The result is much less damage to our environment.
HEMP IS EFFICIENT
Hemp can grow in practically any temperate, and it grows faster than any other crop that's currently in use - it can reach a height of up to 4 metres in about 100 days. In addition, growing hemp is quite easy since it's much less prone to pests and diseases. The amount of oil per plant is twice as high than in rapeseed, and the yield is 2,5 times bigger than when cultivating flax. It makes hemp one of the most efficient to grow crops, taking less time, effort and money to produce a product that can be turned into a biofuel.
HEMP IS VERSATILE
You can make both hemp biodiesel and hemp ethanol/methanol out of it. Biodiesel is produced by pressing the oil out of the seeds, whereas ethanol or methanol is made from the fermented stalk and other plant residues. Fuel made from hemp is usable in pretty much any diesel engine after a small and easy conversion. Moreover, can you use the plants other products for other industries, like mentioned in the introduction, so nothing of the material is wasted.
SO WHAT’S THE CATCH?
The only real drawback to hemp as a biofuel is its lack of economic competitiveness, because of its minimal production scale. But this downside is being overcome, as the world looks to legalise cannabis, it also makes industrial hemp much more accessible. It is the most cost-efficient and valuable fuel crop we have. We have a great solution at hand to stop the destruction of our planet, so let's fuel the world with hemp!