Some regular TreeHugger readers (and commenters, you know who you are...) are no doubt exclaiming that they being saying the same thing for years, that hemp makes great biofuel--if only the Feds would get out of the way. Well, researchers from the University of Connecticut are nevertheless demonstrating the potential of industrial hemp as an energy crop, even if under current law it would only benefit other nations.Hemp Biodiesel Works At Lower Temperatures Than Any Other
Professor Richard Parnas, with the help of his graduate students, produced biodiesel from virgin hemp oil and determined that not only could they convert 97% of the hemp oil into fuel, but that the biodiesel could be used at lower temperatures than any other biodiesel currently produced.
The next step, financed from a two-year $1.8 million grant from the Department of Energy, is building a pilot biodiesel reactor, capable of producing 200,000 gallons of biodiesel annually. The facility will test a variety of feedstocks in addition to hemp, including the economic viability of them.
Parnas also makes the food-versus-fuel connection, pointing out that hemp doesn't need high quality land to grow and is not as likely to compete with food crops as a result. Parnas explains, "If someone is already growing hemp, they might be able to produce enough fuel to power their whole farm from the seeds they produce."
US Missing Great Opportunity With Industrial Hemp & Marijuana Prohibition
None of which is gigantic news in itself, but it does serve to highlight the poor policy in the United States which 1) Prohibits the growing of one of the world's most ancient and useful crops (even though the finished products can be sold here), because 2) Federal lawmakers somehow can't grasp that industrial hemp is a different thing than marijuana--which is a subset of 3) a hypocritical prohibition on marijuana, even though alcohol and tobacco are perfectly legal and taxed. Soapbox put away...
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More on Biofuels:
Perfect Plant? 7 Great Uses From Industrial Hemp
Biofuels Falling Well Short of Green Standards in UK
Biofuels Bumpy Road: The Trials and Tribulations of Algae, Palm OIl, Bioelectricity, Feedstocks, & Birds