Biofuel, Bioplastic, and CBD
Hemp is one of the most sustainable and versatile plants on Earth. Hemp was used in ancient civilizations for paper, fiber, rope, food, and textiles. With modern technology and whole plant utilization many researchers believe that there could be between 50,000 - 100,000 different uses for industrial hemp!
Hemp has been used for over 10,000 years for various purposes including fiber, seed, and biomass. In our last blog post we looked at just some of the ways that these same hemp bioproducts are being currently used. As technology and science has advanced even more uses for the hemp plant have been found. These uses offer some of the most exciting green alternatives and answers to environmental issues and can have a major impact on our health and wellness.
Three other uses of the hemp plant have quickly gained in popularity over the past few years. Biofuel, bioplastics, and CBD are just some of the incredible uses of the hemp plant that are being currently researched and used. Scientists and the general public are excited about the possibilities hemp brings to the medical, fuel, and manufacturing sectors.
Since the invention of the gas engine in the 1700s, crude oil and other fossil fuels have been used for mass transportation around the world. It is no secret that human dependence on fossil fuels is concerning. These fossil fuels are not renewable and many experts believe that our crude oil resources are running out. This has caused many scientists and researchers to look for viable energy alternatives.
One of the most common alternatives to fossil fuels is biofuel. Biofuel is created by using vegetables and plants such as corn, peanut, and hemp plants instead of crude oil. The idea of using plant based fuels is not new. In fact, concerned about air pollution and fuel efficiency, Rudolf Diesel created the first diesel engine to run on biofuel in the 1890s. Henry Ford even designed his Model T to run on either gasoline or hemp and other biodiesel fuels. Unfortunately biofuel research and utilization took a backseat to fossil fuels when large crude oil reserves were found in the 20th century.
Over the last decade scientists have rediscovered hemp biofuel. In 2010 researchers at the University of Connecticut found that pressed hemp seeds can be processed into hemp seed oil which then can be used to produce a sustainable diesel fuel. The hemp oil was found to have a 97% biodiesel conversion rate and passed all testing requirements. This hemp biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine and does not require engine modifications! Biodiesel is safe to handle as well. It is as biodegradable as sugar, 10 times less toxic than salt, and has a flashpoint of 300 degrees Fahrenheit compared to petroleum diesel fuel’s 125 degree flashpoint.
The biomass, or stalk, leaves, buds, etc can also be used to create other types of biofuel. The whole hemp plant can be processed into either ethanol or methanol. Hemp ethanol is made with starch and sugars found in the hemp biomass through a process called cellulolysis. Hemp methanol can be produced with the woody pulp of the plant through dry distillation.
There are many environmental and economic benefits to using hemp biofuel. The National Hemp Association states that, “hemp turns out to be the most cost-efficient and valuable of all the fuel crops we could grow on a scale that could fuel the world.” Hemp is a renewable resource that grows in approximately 100 days. It is carbon neutral, which means the plant takes in carbon dioxide from the air, and actually improves the health of the soil. Industrial hemp reduces the toxins from the soil and returns about 70% of its nutrients back into the ground. This leads to a healthier soil and cleaner water.
The hemp plant can grow “like a weed” in a wide variety of soils including soil that is considered infertile for other crops. This means that hemp grown for biofuel does not need to use the nutrient rich soil that is needed for growing food.
“For sustainable fuels, often it comes down to a question of food versus fuel,” says Richard Parnas, a professor of chemical, materials, and biomolecular engineering at the University of Connecticut. He noted that “It’s equally important to make fuel from plants that are not food, but also won’t need the high-quality land.” Industrial hemp is a perfect solution to the fuel vs food problem.
With the legalization of industrial hemp and the many economic and environmental benefits it provides, many experts and analysts believe that hemp will become a leading resource for renewable biofuel production.
Another sustainable, renewable, and exciting use of the hemp plant is bioplastic. Bioplastic uses hemp and other plant material to create biodegradable yet extremely strong plastic materials. Some of the earliest plastics were made from cellulose fibers rather than petroleum-based sources, yet petroleum based plastics have become the norm. These petroleum based plastics have created an environmental crisis in our oceans and landfills and are dependent on oil and other fossil fuels. Scientists and engineers are working to create viable and renewable bioplastic options that will help combat the plastic crisis.
In order to make different types of bioplastic a high cellulose content is needed. Industrial hemp has one of the highest cellulose content of any plant. 65 to 70% of the hemp biomass is cellulose. Hemp cellulose can be extracted and used to make cellophane, rayon, a wide variety of similar plastics. Once the hemp cellulose goes through processing it can be manufactured into tiny hemp plastic pellets. These pellets can be used to create any plastic product or packaging.
Hemp plastic and other bioplastics are designed to be used with existing plastic injection molding equipment and does not require any new technology or modifications to equipment. Hemp bioplastic can even be used in 3D printers.
Hemp plastics are made from a renewable and sustainable resource. They are also non-toxic, pesticide-free, recyclable and biodegradable within six months. Hemp plastic is not only a lighter material, but it is also 3.5 times stronger than polypropylene.
Manufacturers are also recognizing the need for eliminating petroleum based plastics and resin. LEGO recently announced that they are looking for alternative bioplastic options and will be eliminating their petroleum based resin by 2030. Many other manufacturers are looking to hemp plastic and other bioplastics for packaging and production needs. Hemp plastic offers many biodegradable options for packaging and meets consumer demand for more sustainable products.
While 100% hemp-based plastic is still somewhat rare, hemp composite bioplastics are already being used across many manufacturing sectors. These composite bioplastics combine hemp and other plant sources such as corn to create an extremely strong and rigid plastic. These plastics are currently used in the construction of cars, boats, and even musical instruments. Carmakers such as Ford, GM, Chrysler, Saturn, BMW, Honda, and Mercedes are using this hemp composite bioplastic for compressed door panels, dashboards, trunks, etc. Almost all Eurpopean car makers are switching to hemp based car components because they have found the the hemp based plastics are lighter, safer, stronger, and recyclable. The hemp composites are less expensive and less dangerous than fiberglass and other materials that have been used in the past.
The possibilities are truly endless with hemp plastics, composites, and resin. Hemp bioplastic can be molded into any shape and can replace anything currently made out of fiberglass or petroleum based plastics. The production of hemp and other bioplastics is expected to grow rapidly. According to Grand View Research, bioplastics are predicted to control 5% of the plastics market by 2020 and 40% by 2030.
One of the most popular uses of the hemp plant is currently CBD. CBD or cannabidiol, is one of the many chemical compounds called cannabinoids that can be found in the industrial hemp plant. Unlike THC, the other commonly known cannabinoid found in cannabis, CBD is legal, non psychoactive, and is used for medicinal purposes. It has gained rapid popularity over the past few years and can be found in a variety of supplements, and in many medical and cosmetic products.
Hemp-derived CBD is a concentration that is extracted from the flower of the female hemp plant through various methods including CO2 extraction and ethanol extraction. The extracted CBD then goes through a process where it ultimately becomes a thick golden oil. This CBD oil is then manufactured into a large variety of products designed to help with different ailments or issues. These CBD products can be administered topically or through ingestion.
Many people have used CBD oil in creams and tinctures to help with a variety of symptoms including inflammation, pain, anxiety, mood disorders, ADHD, seizures, and other medical issues. In June 2018 the FDA approved the first CBD based drug called Epidiolex which is used to treat epilepsy.
CBD interacts the human Endocannabinoid system which helps with brain function and physiological processes including pain-sensation, mood, memory, sleep, and appetite. CBD attaches to the cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body that help regulate pain, inflammation, body temperature, etc. Scientists are eager to learn more about the Endocannabinoid system and the effects of CBD on the cannabinoid receptors. Research is currently being conducted to determine the medical effects of CBD on a variety of symptoms and illnesses including cancer and mental health.
Millions of people are already using CBD products and claim that it has helped with their medical needs and has given them overall improvement in their physical and mental health and wellness. Because the FDA is currently not regulating CBD products, it is important for CBD users to purchase their products from reputable companies that use pharmaceutical grade, third-party tested CBD. BooBeary Products, LVGI/SHHI’’s CBD subsidiary company, uses all organic US grown hemp, tests all of their CBD products in an independent lab, and makes the test results available for consumers.
When you look at all of the amazing uses of the hemp plant it is obvious that it is one of the most important and versatile plants on Earth. It offers solutions to our environmental and health concerns and gives us viable and sustainable alternatives to many of the products we have become dependent on. As more and more research is done, many experts believe that we will continue to find exciting new ways that the hemp plant can be used to help our health, wellness, and daily life. With the legalization of industrial hemp and hemp-derived products, the United States, and US companies such as LVGI and Summit Harbor Holdings are primed to become leaders in the worldwide industrial hemp industry. From farming to processing and manufacturing, SHHI is committed to building a fully vertical industrial hemp company that utilizes the amazing uses and economical and environmental benefits that come from the hemp plant.