Industrial Hemp for Renewable Energy

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As a renewable resource from living plants hemp does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. The growing plants absorb as much CO2 as will later be released when oil or other plant matter is burnt. Unlike fossil fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas or nuclear fuels, hemp could supply us with raw materials for thousands of years, without ever changing our climate and without producing waste that remains radioactive for millions of years.

Hemp is a high yield fiber crop, producing more biomass per acre than most other crops. As a result, the hydrocarbons in hemp could be used as a renewable, low polluting alternative to fossil fuels. Hemp could be processed into fuel pellets, liquid fuels, and gas, reducing our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power. Biomass can be converted into virtually every form of energy used, including methanol to power automobiles. Since methanol is a cleaner fuel than petro-based fuels, this would lead to reduced auto emissions. Corn is the most popular source of biomass today; but hemp can yield up to eight times as much methanol per acre as corn.

Unlike fossil fuel, biomass comes from living plants that continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. With plant heights reaching 15' or more, hemp creates a lot of oxygen and captures high amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Hemp fields could become very important in addressing issues of planetary climate change. When hemp is grown for biomass, CO2 is taken in and metabolized by the plants, generating oxygen in the process. When the biomass is burned as fuel, the CO2 is released back into the air. This maintains a balanced CO2 cycle. By contrast, burning fossil fuels introduces back into the atmosphere carbon that has been "out of circulation" for millions of years, and provides no mechanism for re-absorption.

On a global scale, hemp is perhaps the only plant capable of producing sufficient biomass to provide an alternative to fossil fuels. As a biomass fuel resource, hemp could stop a host of damaging effects associated with fossil fuels: strip mining, oil spills, acid rain and sulfur-based smog.

Biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as hemp. Hemp stems are 80% hurds (pulp byproduct after the hemp fiber is removed from the plant). Hemp hurds are 77% cellulose a primary chemical feed stock (industrial raw material) used in the production of chemicals, plastics, and fibers. Biodiesel is the name for a variety of ester based oxygenated fuels made from hemp oil, other vegetable oils or animal fats. The concept of using vegetable oil as an engine fuel dates back to 1895 when Dr. Rudolf Diesel developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. Diesel demonstrated his engine at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 using peanut oil as fuel.

Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that runs in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine. It can be stored anywhere that petroleum diesel fuel is stored. Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport because it is as biodegradable as sugar, 10 times less toxic than table salt, and has a high flashpoint of about 300 F compared to petroleum diesel fuel, which has a flash point of 125 F. Biodiesel can be made from domestically produced, renewable oilseed crops such as hemp. Biodiesel is a proven fuel with over 30 million successful US road miles, and over 20 years of use in Europe. When burned in a diesel engine, biodiesel replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with the pleasant smell of hemp, popcorn or french fries.

Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel in the US to complete EPA Tier I Health Effects Testing under section 211(b) of the Clean Air Act, which provide the most thorough inventory of environmental and human health effects attributes that current technology will allow.

Biodiesel is 11% oxygen by weight and contains no sulfur. The use of biodiesel can extend the life of diesel engines because it is more lubricating than petroleum diesel fuel, while fuel consumption, auto ignition, power output, and engine torque are relatively unaffected by biodiesel.

The Congressional Budget Office, Department of Defense, US Department of Agriculture, and others have determined that biodiesel is the low cost alternative fuel option for fleets to meet requirements of the Energy Policy Act.

Industrial hemp has many wonderful properties and uses that can help our planet and people achieve a healthier and more natural and sustainable existence ... our governments just have to get past the unreasonable fears and phobias and ingrained self-interests of some of our large industries and their lobbyists.