With the November 2018 midterm elections, the buzz surrounding the cannabis plant has been revived, and talks on the uses of cannabis varieties such as marijuana and hemp have once again been ignited. In light of this, it is important to look into one of the most essential potentials of the cannabis plant, which is hemp as an energy crop.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant that is highly fibrous. It is a variety of Cannabis sativa, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa L. It is different from sativa in that it has a low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the highly psychoactive compound) content, but high levels of CBD (cannabidiol, the medicinal component). Historically, the ancient Chinese used this plant to make clothes, bowstrings, and parchment and Europeans, in the 16th century, were also reaping the benefits of this strain for food and textiles.
With its fiber-rich stalks and stems, this plant is currently used in various industries to make plastics, paper, ropes, and textiles. In fact, it is used in major areas in modern plumbing. One of the most significant developments in studying the benefits of hemp is its contributions to the biofuel industry.
The Benefits of Using Hemp for Biofuels
There was a push towards using this plant as an alternative to traditional fuel sources. However, with legal limitations restricting the use of the cannabis plant in the U.S., this vision was not fully realized. However, more and more experts are vouching for the use of this strain as a good source of biofuels and here are some of the benefits of using it:
- It Has Minimal Environmental Impact
One of the best things about using this crop is its environment-friendly attributes. Keep in mind that traditional fuel sources are getting depleted. Moreover, burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil has proven to be detrimental to the environment and is the number one cause of global warming.
With hemp biofuel as an alternative, we can reduce the damage caused by hydrocarbons (extracted from old and non-renewable animals and plants). This is because this crop offers a carbohydrate alternative, which can be obtained through new and renewable plants.
- It is More Sustainable
If you are thinking that hemp is the only energy crop available, you are wrong. There are many other crops that can be used to replace traditional fuels. However, this was deemed unsustainable because the production of biofuel from these other crops has a negative environmental impact primarily because they use too much water and land while yielding very little. Cultivating this cannabis strain can be the answer to the problem. Keep in mind that this crop is easy to grow and, when it comes time to harvest them, they have high yields.
To further illustrate the advantages this crop has to offer, we need to take note that this crop is high in fiber. To extract biodiesel and ethanol/methanol, large amounts of grains, starches, waste paper, and pulp are needed. Because of the high fiber content, it is a perfect alternative to traditional and other energy crops.
- It is Already Used in the Automotive Industry
Automobile makers have been using plastics made from hemp for a while now. In fact, almost all European manufacturers use hemp-derived materials for their cars. Some of the car parts that are made from this crop include interior and exterior door panels, trim pieces and card doors. This shows the usefulness of this plant in one industry alone.
These developments in the use of the cannabis plant can help industries to reach new heights. With the many advantages hemp has to offer in the fuel and energy industry, there is no denying that it is the new energy crop.