Research Shows Industrial Hemp More Versatile Than We Thought

Times are indeed changing, modern science is constantly experimenting and researching to find alternative methods for some of the hazardous ways and materials that everything leading up to the 21st century has aided.

With the “go green” campaign and the new generation erasing carbon footprints, one small act following another, people are finally realizing that we need to take action to help save our planet. After scientists from Denmark delved deeper into the worldwide hemp movement, they found that studies pushed beyond what we thought this miraculous crop was capable of. Not only does hemp efficiently make chemicals normally produced from petroleum, but also new developments show how industrial hemp can lead biorefinery technology that aims to use the plant to produce fuel and chemicals. Up until now, we have extracted these resources from fossil fuels. As most of the world knows, fossil fuels are very precious core ingredients to the earth and should be used sparingly and protected. Unfortunately, our ancestors didn’t give that much thought. The shift away from fossil fuels as a source of energy and raw materials means scientists are going much further than just using corn to make ethanol, they’re looking at many different crops and trying to optimize their applications.

“Succinic acid, identified as one of the most important platform chemicals in industry, goes into many plastics, food additives and medicines. Though generally produced from petroleum, researchers in Denmark have designed a biorefinery concept that can produce 149 kg of ethanol and 115 kg of succinic acid per ton of hemp. Looking at just ethanol production, hemp yields less than corn per acre: 136 gallons of ethanol per acre of hemp compared to 317 gallons of ethanol per acre of corn. But if the hemp can make ethanol and succinic acid at once, it might become more profitable and further reduce the chemical industry’s need for fossil fuels.” – Sirius J of High Times.

Hemp also has a number of other traits that make it more favorable to grow than conventional crops. Hemp grown for fiber is able to be grown in poor soil, so it doesn’t have to compete with edible crops like corn or wheat. Other varieties of hemp can be edible. Rich in protein and omega fatty acids, hemp seed could challenge corn for livestock feed and with soybeans as a source of vegetable oil. Hemp grows in dense fields with their stalks very close together, and doesn’t require herbicides because the fast growing leaves envelopes everything else early in the season.

Let’s embrace hemp and celebrate it as a future end to chemicals, make the world a greener place!

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