Hemp provides an optimal biomass to fuel conversation ratio, second only to algae. The world desperately needs to transition from unsustainable fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Just turning 5-10% of the farm land in the United States into crops for biofuels could supply the U.S. with all of the energy it requires (2). Hemp’s ability to grow quickly and robustly makes it a perfect candidate.
The Most Efficient Form of Energy
The original diesel engine was designed to burn biofuels but later was converted to use gasoline. Henry Ford’s first Model-T car was both built out of hemp and other biofibers and ran on biofuel. Today major automobile companies use industrial hemp in many parts of the car, taking advantage of its superior strength and lightweight. There are millions of late model vehicles on the road today that contain significant amounts of hemp biocomposites that increase strength, reduced weight and help improve on fuel consumption.
A recent study at the University of Connecticut found that, “hemp biodiesel showed a high efficiency conversion – 97% of the hemp oil was converted to biodiesel…even showing properties that suggest it could be used at lower temperatures than any biodiesel currently on the market.” (3)
Ethanol, methanol, biogas and solid fuels can be made from the hemp plant. Hemp biofuels burn at about 5,000-8,000 BTU with almost no residue or sulfur emissions released into the environment. When hemp biofuel is burned, it releases the same amount of CO2 that is has sequestered from the air, making it a closed loop system. If hemp biofuel was in greater use in large cities around the world, it would help to reduce smog, acid rain, and likely slow the effects of global warming.
There are many reasons for a country to adopt industrial hemp as a biofuel, but one of the most compelling would be energy independence. There are plenty of other plants that can be converted into biofuels, but industrial hemp outperforms them based on how much biomass can be produced on just one acre of land.