Hemp cultivation could potentially produce enough biofuel to replace fossil fuels, easing pollution and global warming problems.
Here’s a fun fact for the next time you ask yourself where all your money goes: 80 percent of your living expenses cover energy costs – from the fuel we use when we drive, to the food we cook and eat, and the temperature that makes us comfortable. That’s roughly 33 of your 40 hours of work that pay for that stuff.
Let me get to the point. It’s estimated that we have exhausted around 80 percent of our existing fossil fuels. With all this pollution and decreasing supplies, one wonders what we could do to fix this problem. The answer is hemp fuel.
Hemp Rocks the Biomass Industry
Hemp is the most versatile plant on earth as far as anyone knows. Its seeds contain a perfect balance of nutrients that can sustain life and support health. Its strong fiber outlasts cotton and is softer as well. However, one of the most promising uses for hemp results from its chemical makeup.
Biomass is a renewable energy source that is commonly derived from plant matter grown to generate electricity or produce heat. Hemp is the number one known producer of biomass per acre in the world. If grown for the production of biomass fuels, hemp could provide enough energy to replace the coal, gas , and oil we depend on now. It is estimated that 1.5 to 3.5 million acres of hemp could meet all of Canada’s fossil fuel demands. It’s a good thing they’ve legalized hemp cultivation.
Better yet, planting only six percent of the United States with biomass crops like hemp would supply all of the current demands now met by fossil fuels like oil and gas. Fuels produced from biomass offer cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels as well. No sulfur oxide is released during combustion. A closed CO2 system is created. According to Stanley Manahan (Professor of Chemistry at the University of Missouri), biomass fuels would not result in any net CO2 being added to the atmosphere.
In 1895 Dr. Rudolf Diesel developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. Diesel demonstrated his creation at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1990 using peanut oil as fuel. The concept of using vegetable oil as an engine fuel is also an example of using biodiesel. Biodiesel is a variety of ester-based oxygenated fuel made from vegetable oil, animal fats, and yes of course, hemp.
Hemp-based biodiesel can be used alone or mixed in any ratio with petroleum fuel. The most common blend is a mix called “B20:” 20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel.
Hemp results in a 95.5% fuel-to-feed ratio when used for pyrolysis, the thermochemical process that converts organic matter into fuel. Biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that can be used in any conventional, unmodified diesel engine. It can be treated and stored the same as petroleum.
Environmental Benefit of Hemp Fuel
Tired of all those stinky semi-trucks that blow black smoke all the time? Well next time tell that driver to pour some biodiesel in his diesel engine, and soon you will notice the difference. When biodiesel is burned, it replaces the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with the happy smell of hemp, popcorn, or french fries.
But let’s get serious. The Congressional Budget Office, Department of Defense, US Department of Agriculture, to name a few, have decided that biodiesel is the best alternative fuel option for fleets to meet the designated requirements of the Energy Policy Act. Biodiesel is even the only alternative fuel source in the US that has completed the EPA Tier I Health Effects Testing under section 211(b) of the Clean Air Act.
Because it’s as biodegradable as sugar, biodiesel is safe to handle and transport. It is 10 times less toxic than table salt for crying out loud! And in case you haven’t grasped how awesome hemp based biodiesel is, let me just pound out some more facts for you.
The production and use of biodiesel produces around 80% less carbon dioxide emissions, and absolutely no sulfur dioxide, both of which cause damage to the environment. The combustion of biodiesel actually helps, with a 90% reduction in total unburned hydrocarbons, and 75-90% reduction in aromatic hydrocarbons.
Biofuel Can Help Everyone
You might be thinking, “But what about the jobs of millions of fossil fuel workers?” Unfortunately there might be a loss. But if we begin to integrate biofuels with fossil fuels now, in the future the jobs created by biofuels will replace the ones lost almost equally.
Biofuels, like biodiesel, would be ideal for use in national parks and forests, marine areas (no more Gulf oil spills), and heavily populated and polluted cities. Producing biodiesel from hemp and other domestic crops reduces the US’s dependence on foreign petroleum (so long sky-high gas prices), increases agricultural revenue (so long deficit), and best of all, creates jobs.
Times are changing, and right now time’s against us. Since industrial times, the level of carbon dioxide has risen almost 30% due to fossil fuel pollution, and loss of trees to restore the atmosphere. The US alone burns fossil fuels for 93% of its energy needs and uses 25% of the world’s supply.
Americans are greedy, it’s true, but if hemp was allowed to grow around the globe, we might change the world. Until then I will dream of planting hemp with a turnaround of two harvests a year instead of every 10-20 like trees; dream of planting hemp to restore the environment; dream of planting hemp to feed the hungry; dream of us all planting hemp, if we all pulled together – dream of planting hemp so we might be able to save the world.
- By: seeeco
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