According to Purdue Horticultural Department, hemp can make over 25,000 products. That means the modern hemp innovations are just a scratch on the surface. We have a long way to go. Before its prohibition in the 1900s, cannabis was one of the most dominant plants in most industries. Its versatility allows applications in textile, paper, food, medicine, and building, among other sectors. However, that popularity was lost after the association of the crop with marijuana.
The passing of the Farm Bill in December 2018 led to a revived interest in hemp industries. Although illegal in some states and most countries worldwide, we have seen several hemp innovations taking the market by storm. Here are some of the products you should watch out for in the USA hemp industry.
Below is a few examples of the many innovative uses of hemp. As research and development continue, we’ll likely see more exciting and sustainable uses of this versatile and eco-friendly material.
This hemp innovation seems to be around for a while. It only gets better by the day. It has been a long since the construction industry welcomed a new entrant. Hempcrete is revolutionizing the market with its advantages over traditional construction. The material is made from a mixture of hemp fiber, water, and lime. Hemp fiber has a high concentration of silica which binds well with lime.
Apart from that, hempcrete is way lighter than concrete. It weighs like seven times less than concrete. The material is also carbon negative which is unlike the other construction materials. The feature means that using hempcrete for construction reduces the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. With increased regulation in the construction industry to reduce energy consumption, hempcrete is a perfect product to achieve this objective.
If hemp is fully legalized, it will lower the cost of construction materials because it is cheaper to make hempcrete. It is also important to note that the material is also fire-resistant.
2. Hemp Cars
Henry Ford had a dream which seemed long-forgotten, but it is coming back to life. He was once quoted by the New York Times saying, “It will be a car of darn sight better design in every form. And don’t forget the motor car business is just one of the industries that can find new uses for plastics, made from what’s grown in the land!” With hemp, the idea of vehicles growing on the soil is closer now than before.
Scientists have discovered that hemp can replace both plastics and steel in the manufacture of motor vehicles. The material has a higher strength-to-weight ratio which gives it a better standing. Some companies like BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, and Chrysler are incorporating hemp material in their vehicles to reduce the cost of production and also improve fuel efficiency. Because hemp is lighter, the cars can run on less power and maintain their performance.
Renew Sports Cars is not a renowned brand, but recently, the company started making headlines after launching a car body featuring hemp fiber. Hemp fiber is interwoven and then covered by a super-hard resin to complement the car’s durability. The brand came to the limelight when Jay Leno rode in the car to his renowned show Jay Leno’s Garage.
3. Hemp Super Capacitors
We all know about hemp innovations in the construction, food, textile, and medical industries. But what is its application in the electrical industry? A capacitor is a gadget that is used in the storage of electric charge. It consists of pair(s) of conductors separated by an insulator. Capacitors prevent damage to power batteries during high-power demand sessions like acceleration.
Currently, graphene capacitors are the most common. However, the inhibitive cost of the material is giving hemp a pathway into the industry. According to BranchOutNow, the cost of making a gram of graphene can manufacture over 400kg of hemp-based supercapacitor. The hemp supercapacitor performance is at par or better than the traditional version. With the increased research and innovations in electric cars, the hemp capacitor will come in handy. However, the devices are also compatible with fuel-based vehicles.
4. Hemp Bio-fuel
Fossil-based fuels have adverse effects on the environment. This creates a dire need to find alternative energy sources to power motor vehicles and generate electricity. Hemp-based fuel is almost carbon neutral, i.e., it produces nearly zero carbon. The hemp seeds are used to manufacture cellulosic ethanol, which is environmental-friendly.
Apart from that, hemp is sustainable because it takes 3-4 months to reach full maturity. Farmers can grow at least two crops in a single season with proper care and management. Once hemp-based production goes large scale, we will see a drop-in fuel prices because the cost of production is lower than that of petroleum.
Corn ethanol is also trying its way into the market. However, the fuel is almost as harmful as fossil-based fuel. Apart from that, hemp bio-fuel is the only substitute for traditional fuel that does not require engine modification to run the vehicle. It is compatible with the current models of cars without any alteration.
5. Hemp Bio-composites
Because of its strength, hemp fiber is used as reinforcement in composites. The demand for biodegradable materials is increasing with environmental and global warming sensitivity. Hemp fiber offers a solution with mechanical properties that match those of fiberglass.
The only drawback to these materials is the variability in their properties. However, researchers are making discoveries as they try to make hemp composites with thermosets, thermoplastics, and biodegradable matrices. A combination of hemp composite and soy or canola resins makes pure bio-composite material. The composites are used in the manufacture of vehicles, interiors and furniture. The sustainability of hemp also gives a boost to innovation.
Apart from these industries, hemp is also revolutionizing the pharmaceuticals, food, and supplement industries. The production of drugs such as epidotes that helps in the alleviation of epilepsy shows the extension of hemp application. As more states and countries rethink their stand on legalization, we will see more hemp innovations in the market. Celebrities are also coming out and appreciating this magical plant. Consequently, there is widespread interest in hemp and its by-products.
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