Once grown, the hemp plant has several different areas where it can be used. It has been seen as a significant energy reduction and energy saving plant and can be used in the construction, textile, motor vehicle, and the fuel industries among others.
- Construction industry
Hempcrete is concrete made out of hemp. It is a biocomposite material that is created from a mixture of the inner core of the hemp plant, lime, and water. It is used in place of concrete or insulation. Hempcrete is exceptionally durable and is resistant to cracks that can lead to the destruction of a building. This makes it a good alternative for people living in earthquake-prone areas as they can be extra safe with its properties that make it less likely to get cracks on the walls. Houses are protected not only from puffs of wind but also from seismic waves that come with an earthquake.
It is also fire and mold resistant and is not prone to termite attack making it the smarter choice when it comes to building. The house is likely to last longer than other houses made out of concrete or wood and other materials as it is less likely to get burnt down in the case of a fire. It also cannot be attacked by termites or have mold growing in it.
The hempcrete’s benefits do not end there, as it also has insulating and temperature-regulating qualities, which allow occupants of a house built from it to be comfortable. The home is not too humid, nor will the noise made outside the house affect those inside it. You can be in a breathable room with just the right temperature despite it being too hot or too cold outside; this reduces energy use in the house, and you get to cut energy costs while you’re at it.
It is environmentally friendly as well! Hempcrete leaves a negative carbon footprint as the lime in it carbonates and turns to limestone during the creation of the hempcrete, therefore reducing the amount of Co2 in it, making it a sustainable element to use in buildings. The material gets stronger with time as it absorbs the Co2 in the room so that you have a more durable house with less Co2. Hemp as a building material lets you build a sturdy house that can withstand different conditions, and stay in good condition for longer.
- Textile Industry
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the materials used to make clothes? Cotton? It is one of the most common materials, making everything from shirts to innerwear and even trousers and hoodies. However, this is not the only fiber that one can get clothes from. Hemp’s fiber can also be woven into clothes. And hemp fiber clothes are a thing in today’s fashion scene. You can purchase different types of garments made from the hemp fiber, and it has several benefits that are definitely worth thinking about.
First is how eco-friendly the plant is, from its growth right down to its use and disposal. Cotton growth tends to deplete nutrients from the soil, especially nitrogen, leaving the soil weaker than before. It also uses lots of water to grow. Hemp, on the other hand, is easier on the land and requires very little amounts of water to grow thereby saving water.
Cotton also uses a lot of fertilizers to replenish the soil with nutrients, since it takes a lot of them away from the soil. It also requires a lot of pesticides as it attracts pests. The chemicals that make up the pesticides and fertilizers affect the environment, some of them going as far as to affect the ozone layer, thereby putting not just the people around the farm but the whole of humankind in danger. Hemp is a natural resistor to pests and does not require fertilizers to grow.
Finally, clothes made out of hemp fiber become softer with each wash. They are very absorbent and durable making them comfortable to wear. These clothes are also biodegradable. Once you throw them away, like many people often do with their overly worn clothes, they will decompose. This decomposition is unlikely to happen with the clothes made from cotton. You can find these clothes from hemp in different stores across the US. Fabrics made from hemp are also very durable and absorbent making them comfortable to be in.
- Fuel industry
Diesel and gasoline have been used to fuel cars for quite a long time now. They have over the years been the preferred source of fuel for vehicles as they have been cheap and easy to find, with petroleum being located in different areas of the world. However, in recent years, the price of these fuels has been on the increase, while the supply diminishes. The consciousness of people to their environment has also increased as people are more aware of the consequences of their actions and what implications they have on future generations.
People have seen the adverse effects that petroleum products have on the air, as some of the gases they emit such as sulfur cause air pollution and also the harm they cause on aquatic life when they are oil spills in large bodies of water.
These adverse effects call for a more environmentally-friendly source of fuel. The maize plant has been used among other crops to produce biofuel. One very effective plant found to produce such fuel is the hemp plant. This fuel production is done by pressing the seeds of the plant down. They produce a substance that can be used as car fuel. Alternatively, one may first ferment the stalks on the plant and then make them into ethanol and methanol. The biofuel can be used in any biodiesel engine without any prior modifications, and it does not affect the environment as it is made from biodegradable matter. It is the smart way to fuel your car, for the safety of the environment around you.
Use of biofuel from hemp also facilitates local production of fuel as the plant is available in most states in the US. It is a great source of employment for the people living in the U.S which would largely contribute to the achievement of our Sustainable Development Goals while still protecting the environment.
- Motor vehicle industry
Can hemp really be used to make automobiles? The answer is yes, it absolutely can. You can get yourself a biodegradable car. This is not a recent discovery, as there is a story about Henry Ford’s hemp car that you may or may not have seen on the internet. The claims made around that story are that the hemp-based material is lighter than steel but can survive a lot more impact than the steel.
The story of Henry Ford was a long time ago. However, more recently, there has been a lot of improvement in technology when it comes to an automobile’s body. Several companies including BMW have been able to create car exterior and interior parts with hemp products.
Cars made from hemp are termed ‘green machines.’ Hemp is made from several piles of woven hemp and is lighter than cars that are made from the traditional fiberglass. It creates a nice, strong car that is bound to last longer and not get damaged easily even when involved in accidents.
Being lighter than most cars makes it ideal in energy consumption as a lighter car is likely to consume less energy. They also tend to be more durable in that you will not need to continually visit a mechanic for maintenance, therefore, saving cost.
Vehicle companies that have embraced the use of hemp in building the car bodies include BMW, Audi VW, and Dietzen. The Mazda Miata chassis by Dietzeg is made out of the hemp product only and uses biofuel making it one of the smart cars that exist.
- Telecommunications industry and beyond.
Your batteries could benefit from hemp as well if current research by different institutions bears fruit. A battery releases energy in a slow, controlled manner, but there are some instances where you would need the energy to be released in larger quantities and at a faster rate. This is where the capacitor comes in, for example, when about to start your car or take a photo with your phone camera. The capacitor aids your battery in quickly releasing large amounts of energy at a go.
A faster way to release such energy is through the supercapacitors that are quicker and practically release the required amounts of energy instantly. The more efficient supercapacitors include a graphene-based one, which has been used before especially in electric cars. The graphene supercapacitors are however expensive and hard to find, leaving people with a need for affordable supercapacitors. And in comes the hemp-based supercapacitors.
Researchers have been able to manipulate the fiber from hemp to come up with supercapacitors that work in a similar if not more efficient way than graphene. And, other than that, the materials used to make the supercapacitors are bio-waste from the hemp plant, therefore ensuring that nothing goes to waste. The use of biowaste makes the product cheaper than the very expensive graphene.
While this is already being done, companies like Samsung are in the process of adopting the hemp supercapacitor technology to their phone batteries such that they not only charge faster but maintain the power for longer as well.
- Biodegradable Plastics Industry
The world is slowly drowning in plastic bags. With the use of each plastic bag, is an addition to the vast collection of unusable bags that end up in the streets and dumpsites. Most of these plastic bags we find at stores, use and throw away are made from petroleum. They do not decompose; they can remain as they are for decades, centuries. Such frequent use of non-biodegradable matter destroys our environment.
Industrial hemp is one solution to the problem of non-biodegradable plastic bag use. It can be used to create biodegradable bags which may vary from standard bags that are reinforced with hemp fibers to the kind of bags that are made solely from hemp products. Those reinforced with hemp fibers only reduce the amount of plastic used, while the others are made out of 100% hemp plant product. The plastic made from these hemp plants is recyclable. And when you throw such bags away, they will decompose thus creating a more clean and safe environment.
The hemp plant is a renewable source of energy that not only replenishes the soil where it is growing but also grows quickly. It has several other uses including in the making of paper and is a better alternative as it uses less time to grow taking about four to five months. New ideas continue to emerge on ways of using the hemp plant, and its benefits encourage even more people to use, cultivate or trade in it. It is definitely the next big thing which is likely to revolutionize a myriad of industries.