Industrial Hemp – The Crop for the Future

Industrial Hemp – The Crop for the Future
March 24 08:36 2019 Print This Article


The deteriorating condition of the environment and the adverse effects of global warming have created urgency in the search for eco-friendly alternatives to polluting fossil fuels. Energy crops, a possible alternative are crops that are cultivated for the purpose of making biofuels. Industrial hemp is a new entrant into this domain.


  • What is Hemp?


Hemp is a highly fibrous variant of the cannabis plant that has high levels of Cannabidiol (CBD) which is the medicinal compound of the plant, and low levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (TBD) which is the psychoactive compound. The CBD oil extracts and other parts of the plant have been historically used for various purposes. Being extremely fibrous in nature, industrial hemp is used worldwide in the industries that produce paper, textiles, and plastics.


  • How can it be used as a biofuel?


There are two types of biofuel that can be derived from industrial hemp. The first kind is biodiesel. This made by processing the oil and fat that come from pressing hemp seeds. Hemp-derived biodiesel can be easily carried around and poses itself as an extremely viable replacement of traditional fossil fuels.

The second kind of biofuel that can be derived from industrial hemp is ethanol. Ethanol is an additive to gasoline and is typically derived from wheat and barley. However, through processing, ethanol can be derived from hemp as well. Hemp is a low-cost, low-maintenance crop making it the ideal replacement towards barley and wheat-derived ethanol, crops that are far more valuable to us as a food resource and which require higher levels of maintenance.


  • The problem with Hemp


Despite its many benefits, many people are hesitant towards accepting industrial hemp as an alternative. A significant reason is the public’s confusion between hemp and marijuana. Although belonging to the same family of plants, hemp has very low levels of the psychoactive component that is present in marijuana and hence, cannot get you “high.” The issue many fear is that people will take advantage of its widespread cultivation and try to grow cannabis with high THC and disguise it as industrial hemp.

A more economic drawback of using hemp is the farm space. Although hemp requires less maintenance, utilising it will still take up space on land – land which may currently be used by food crops. A question posed towards people who advocate for the use of industrial hemp is whether it is worth sacrificing on food resources.


  • The Way Forward


The issues that stand in the way of rearing hemp are small and can be overcome. As long as there are strict regulations in the growth of Hemp, with serious consequences for those who misuse regulations, Hemp can be grown without the fear of people growing the more psychoactive version of the plant. At the end of the day, we need to move towards a cleaner and greener world. If industrial hemp is the way forward, then it should be seriously considered as a likely alternative to traditional fuels.

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Clare Louise
Clare Louise

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