Old Solutions to a New Problem: Hemp BioDieselCould the solution to fossil fuels lie in domestic hemp production?
With the looming threat of exploding energy prices choking Europe, the cannabis conversation becomes even more relevant. While medical and recreational cannabis continues to spread through the world, the industrial use of the plant, particularly that of BioDiesel, woefully lags.
Don’t Waste Food Use Cannabis Waste for Fuel
One of the trickiest aspects of sourcing biofuel is that many suitable options, such as tallow, soy, and wheat, are staple food products. Due to this, many countries are slow to pursue these fuel options as it requires sacrificing food. While fuel is essential, sustenance is arguably more so. Yet cannabis, a largely inedible plant, offers an excellent opportunity to produce biofuels without threatening the caloric intake of a population.
Since at least 2010, there have been studies published on the effectiveness of cannabis as a source of biofuel. UConn converted 97% of a hemp oil sample into biodiesel that year. The stalk, leaves, and other above-ground parts can be harvested for sugar yields and then fermented into ethanol. Yet, progression in the field has stalled, apparently due to a lack of demand.
As it takes cannabis only a few weeks to grow, the issue isn’t supply. Even if there is not enough cannabis waste to convert into biofuel, the industry can quickly produce it. Proper processing centers may be more difficult to find, but with enough ingenuity, a region such as Europe could likely muster up the needed equipment and space.
Considering the coming winter season now is the time to invest in alternative fuel sources, whether nuclear or a green energy solution such as cannabis-sourced fuels.
The issue holding back this field is the same issue holding back cannabis manufacturing unilaterally, namely, the aforementioned lack of processing plants. Both innovative and nationalized solutions, or as is more likely, private innovation in the field, could address this bottleneck. Once someone seizes this opportunity, the use of cannabis fuels could be made mainstream. It is of note that this idea was one shared by Henry Ford.
Holistic Implementations Hold True in Time of Crisis
There’s no reason to stop with cannabis fuels. Leading voices have discussed the benefits of cannabis as a crop many times. In summary, benefits include offering more nutrient variety so other crops can thrive, promoting beneficial insects, and phytoremediation. Thus, cannabis can indirectly support food production.
However, cannabis fuel provides an excellent opportunity to increase food security. Across the world, many farmers struggle to harvest their crops due to the rising cost of diesel. By relying on cannabis fuels, production is handled domestically and will resist global trends. With this fuel, farmers can rely on secure sources and follow through with their planned harvests.
Further, oil consumption doesn’t need to be where the energy conversation ends. There are already working models for cannabis batteries, which can compete with traditional lithium batteries. Although the electronic vehicle movement has not focused on farm equipment, it is similarly valuable in this field.
By designing satisfactory hemp processing plants, any country will be investing in its future. If done correctly, cannabis farming enriches the soil and the ecosystem and removes hazards from the environment. Cannabis fuels from this crop allow for a clean method of sourcing burnable fuels while leaving foodstuffs unmolested. While perhaps another source of green energy is preferable in the future, this fuel is already capable of being integrated into the equipment we have today. Further, improved cannabis manufacturing may lead to the development of better electronic technologies that allow for a more gentle rollout of EVs that does not require relying on materials sourced from informal mines.
Novel Integration of Old Innovations
Since humanity took to the seas, it relied on hemp. In the modern era, many countries, and the men who run them, have lost sight of the plant’s potential as a natural resource. Cannabis can properly balance and empower natural resources to their full potential by enriching and repairing soil. It can also support fuel supplies by providing a nearly limitless source of biodiesel and bioethanol precursors.
The production of cannabis fuels could pair with domestic industries to provide a wide range of manufactured products. One cannot overstate the value of having a stable source of lithium alternatives, especially as the world continues to develop. Strategies like this are necessary for a changing and continually evolving global environment.
By harnessing cannabis for energy production, and energy use, any country willing to invest would be able to insulate its economy from foreign threats. Perhaps the best time to do this was a century ago, but the second best time is now.