Friday, June 2, 2017

The Hemp Revolution

By Jasen T. Davis

Hemp could replace fossil fuels as a form of energy

For centuries humanity has used energy sources such as gasoline, coal and even thermonuclear power as a resource, but we have done so at a tremendous cost to the environment. As global warming and the occasional atomic meltdown take their toll on the world, many scientists and researchers are investigating cheaper, more renewable and safer alternatives, including hemp.
Since the dawn of time people have burned wood to stay warm, cook and create steam for power. Cutting down trees, however, eventually leads to deforestation and devastated animal habitats. Trees can usually be harvested every 10 years, but industrial hemp has a growth cycle of just three months, allowing farmers to cultivate it faster.
Wood pellets made of compressed shavings and dust have been used as a source of fuel for a very long time. According to Jim Pillsbury, a cultivator of industrial hemp in Framingham, Massachusetts who is working with a Canadian biomass research facility to develop a hemp alternative to wood pellets, the process also requires no pesticides and is therefore less harmful to the environment.
Biomass power plants generate electricity from turbines driven by steam from burning wood pellets, regular wood or even plant material, such as hemp. The steam can also heat buildings and be used for manufacturing. Instead of burning biomass, other means like chemical decomposition and all-natural, biological digestion can be used.
According to Klara Marosszeky, an Australian researcher studying the science of biomass generators, hemp is the solution. “The biomass it produces is the equivalent to a similar area of forest [per year], but it’s produced in a four month period of growth,” Marosszeky said in an interview with ABC News, Australia. Since hemp grows faster, cleaner and requires no fertilizers, this process is far less harmful to nature than using processed, cut-down trees.
Supercapacitators made of graphene help batteries store electricity. Creating graphene takes time, and it harms the environment, since factories have to use chemicals and metal compounds for the process. Professor David Mitlin, a scientist working at New York’s Clarkson University, has led a team of researchers in creating a supercapacitator made of hemp carbon fibers.
These creations are not only three times more efficient than their metallic counterparts; they are also less harmful to the Earth to build. Mitlin has created a company called CQuest Partners, LLC to manufacture these superior supercapacitators, complete with hemp-derived electrodes and lead a green industrial revolution using hemp to do it.
Paul Bobbee is a Canadian hemp farmer who owns Bifrost Bioblends, a proposed biodiesel plant he hopes will someday generate hemp diesel fuel capable of powering automobiles. After ending up with a surplus of hemp seed one year, Bobbee converted 5,300 gallons of hemp seed oil into a sweet-smelling, slightly greenish fluid capable of fueling a diesel engine.
Fortunately, such an engine already exists. Grayson Sigler owns Hemp Car Transamerica, a company that successfully converted a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300 DT station wagon’s engine into a machine capable of reaching 27 miles per hour on the highway. All his company did to convert the engine was replace the hoses within the vehicle with stronger ones capable of handling the hemp diesel fuel’s slightly heavier viscosity.
Does it seem strange to think that we could use hemp to power just about everything we need to run around and live in America? Sigler doesn’t think so. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, he said, “If we raised hemp on six percent of the land in the U.S., we could provide all of the fuel we need for power generation and transportation.”

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