Since cannabis has seen an easing of regulations over the past twenty years, with the legalization of medical marijauna and the reintroduction of hemp to our farming industry, manufacturers are seeking ways of capitalizing from this relatively new crop. With modern applications, on top of traditional ways in which hemp had been used, it is finding a whole new generation of buyers who are demanding an entirely new line of products to suit our modern times.
Good products are made to solve problems. One of our modern day problems that we face, as a nation, is that we are dependent upon fossil fuels that pollute, contaminate and cost a fortune. The big oil industry is only too happy to keep drilling, even creating new ways of drilling and moving oil through pipelines that span thousands of miles, often leaking along the way and contaminating land and water supplies along the way. While these things are problematic alone, there is also the issue that fossil fuels will eventually run out. Then what?
Science has long been attempting to develop products that could compete with oil for making plastics and fuels. No one product has stood out – until now, that is.
Hemp as Biodiesel and Ethanol
Ethanol is an alcohol based fuel source, typically made from corn or some form of grain. Some countries use rapeseed for creating ethanol, for example. Biodiesel is made from either plant or animal fat. Biodiesel is actually the environmentally preferred of the two products because ethanol requires gasoline in some percentage in order to work. Older cars that were made before flex-fuel capable engines can only use 10% ethanol blends with gasoline. The cars and trucks that are flex-fuel equipped can use the E-85 fuels that are 85% ethanol. The biggest issue with ethanol products is that they only produce about 11% more energy than it takes to create them, therefore they don’t save much in the manufacturing process and still rely heavily on gasoline for the blend.
Biodiesel, on the other hand, doesn’t require any gasoline or petroleum product to be mixed with it. It can burn up to 45% more cleanly than petroleum-based diesel. The best part about biodiesel is that it far more cost effective to produce, giving as much as 95% more energy than it takes to produce.
The big question to ask yourself is why auto manufacturers are moving away from diesel engines? Could it be pressure from other industry? Namely the petroleum industry? They undoubtedly see the writing on the wall. If everything were switched over to diesel, over the next 10 to 20 years, there would not be a need for their product. Not even in plastics.
Hemp Saves the Day and the Planet
Hemp can be used to create both ethanol and biodiesel. It’s the only plant that has been effective at creating both. Plus, hemp is also being used to create plastics that not only look and feel exactly like those that are made from petroleum, but the hemp plastics are biodegradable, meaning that our oceans would be cleaned up in no time at all, with some cleaning projects put in place to get rid of the old plastics that have accumulated on beaches now.
We’ve got whales and dolphins washing up on beaches with bellies that are loaded with plastic. These animals are suffering horrific deaths over bottled water for humans. In the last forty years, we’ve taken a horrible turn and become dependent upon plastics for everything. You can’t buy produce at the supermarket anymore that isn’t wrapped in plastic film or in plastic trays.
We would like to believe that it is being recycled but the truth is that a large extent of our plastic use is ending up in the ocean and in landfills. It’s time to break this cycle and hemp plastic could be what helps us do that. Manufacturers of products like bottled soft drinks and water will have to coaxed into switching to these products and it may be difficult. The petroleum industry has deep ties that go back well over fifty years with some of the product lines who use their products.
Incentives may need to be put into place to coerce these makers into using biodegradable products. The public is screaming for solutions and scientists are developing them, but getting people to switch to using them at the manufacturing level is the difficult part. Once this happens, and it surely will, we will see plastic bottles that reduce to dust in just a couple of weeks instead of hundreds of years.
Hemp is being used to create a myriad of products that will biodegrade and protect the planet’s precious resources and wildlife. Also, hemp is a very renewable crop, growing to maturity in less than 16 weeks from planting. With the American agricultural industry on its knees due to recent flooding and tariffs, hemp could be the crop that turns things around for them, while corn and soybeans go the way of the dinosaur.
It’s hard getting people to change, especially when it has ties to money in larger organizations, but the times are changing, the planet is changing, and people are slowly realizing that they too must change. Products like biodiesel will be reliant upon automakers to introduce diesel cars again, like the old Volkswagons used to be. Without vehicles that will use diesel, we can’t push diesel fuels.
If people could lobby congress the same way that petroleum companies have, we’d already be moving toward a cleaner planet that was happily growing hemp on every street corner. Instead we are slaves to the process of which we have no control. It will take more lobbying and changes in congress to help push toward these clean energy projects that would create more jobs in the long run than any other industry ever has and save American farms in the process. Hemp fuels will eventually run the world and stand the best chance of helping us to leave a cleaner planet to our children and our grandchildren.