HEMP – FUEL FOR THE FUTURE
The following is an article that appeared in the Solar Energy International (SEI) Journal volume 44, winter 2005-2006 issue. I wanted as many of my clients as possible to read this. After all, one of my main reasons for building the Design and Training Center was, and still is, to educate people. With fuel prices high and expected to continue to climb, the article below informs us of the fact that we do have alternatives, and gives us a win-win situation. For the dying breed of family farmers, the American consumer, and most of all a way to free us of our dependency on foreign oil.
Hemp is one of the oldest plants on the planet, growing for over 10,000 years. The oldest piece of fabric found is made of hemp and is over 8,000 years old. Fabric is only one of the many uses of this incredible plant. There is a misconception among the public that hemp is the same as marijuana. Hemp contains less than 1% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. No, you can’t get high or a buzz from smoking hemp.
Beginning in the 1600’s, farmers were required to grow hemp and both Presidents Washington and Jefferson grew hemp. Hemp was used to make clothes, ropes and sails. In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which made it so difficult for farmers to grow hemp that the industry slowly eroded. There are over 25,000 uses for hemp from paper to plastics to fuel.
Clothing made from hemp fabric can last for generations and also has antimicrobial properties when the fabric contains more than 55% hemp. Hemp can also be made into plastics. Henry Ford dreamed of a car that grew from the earth and in 1937, he created a plastic car composed of a 70% hemp composite plastic. This car could endure an impact ten times stronger than steel without bending! Today, aside from specialized products, all our plastics come from fossil fuels.
Hemp is the largest biomass producer on the planet. In four months, it can produce 10 tons of plant material. By using pyrolysis (charcoaling) or biochemical composting, biomass can be converted into methanol and used as a fuel source. Not only can we use the biomass to make methanol, but hemp oil can be used to make biodiesel.
“It would only take 6% of our U.S. land to produce enough hemp for hemp fuel, to make us energy independent from the rest of the world,” reports the organization It’s Inevitable, Hemp based in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Fuel, upon combustion, creates CO2 and H2O which is released into the atmosphere, balancing the carbon cycle. Using hemp as a renewable fuel source can decrease our dependence on foreign oil and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We can also employ U.S. farmers to produce hemp, a crop that requires no weeding, nor fertilizer or pesticides.
The United States is the only industrialized nation where it is illegal to grow industrial hemp. With so many beneficial uses, how can we justify the fact that it is illegal?
In June, 2005, Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced the 2005 Industrial hemp Farming Bill (HR3037). This bill would make the distinction between hemp and marijuana and would give the regulation of industrial hemp to the states. Over 26 states have introduced hemp legislation, fourteen have passed legislation, and six have passed laws for the production and research of industrial hemp, including Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, Hawaii, Maine, and West Virginia. Currently, the bill has nine cosponsors and in order for it to become a priority for the legislature committees, it needs more cosponsors. Visit www.votehemp.org for more information.
If you want to try some hemp clothing, consider purchasing an SEI t-shirt. Our shirts are made up of 55% hemp and 45% cotton, taking advantage of hemp’s antimicrobial properties.
It’s Inevitable, Hemp: www.artistictreasure.com/learnmorecleanair.html
Hemp Car Transamerica: www.hempcar.org
Hemp Industries Association: www.thehia.org
Solar Energy International (SEI): www.solarenergy.org