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Hemp for Fuel

Updated: Jun 12

In this article we will explore the possibility of using hemp as a source of fuel. The world has been on the lookout for a good alternative to fossil fuels because of rising worries about pollution and climate change. Additionally, fossil fuels are non-renewable, leading researchers to look for alternatives that can continue to fuel our infrastructure for generations to come. Hemp may provide an answer to this burning question, and at a lower cost than other alternatives.




Biofuel vs. Petroleum


The first thing to clarify is what fuels can be produced from hemp.


There are two major fuels that can be made from many types of natural crops. Biodiesel refers to fuel that is extracted from combustible oils that are expressed from plants. This commonly comes from plants like corn and soybeans. To create a hemp biodiesel, the hemp seed oils would replace other vegetables in this process.


The other fuels that could be made from crops are ethanol and methanol. These fuels are extracted from all sorts of woody or pulpy materials through processes like gasification.


Petroleum, or crude oil, on the other hand, is a byproduct of physical reactions that occur over very long periods of time to dead organisms. While there is a large quantity of crude oil throughout the world, the process of creating crude oil cannot be replicated. This makes crude oil a non-renewable resource, meaning that at some point the world can run out of it.


Many people are looking to biodiesels as a potential alternative to crude oil in the coming years. Since hemp supplies both vegetable oil and and has woody/pulpy stalks, it is possible to extract multiple types of biofuels from the plant.




Advantages


Besides for the economic potential of biofuels, there are a number of other advantages to using plant based fuels over petroleum.


  • Biofuels are biodegradable, meaning that they will have less negative effects on the environment

  • They are less toxic and safer to handle

  • They can be used in most diesel engines and stored wherever diesel can be stored

  • They may be better for engine health

  • They do not create noxious odors like gasoline

  • The process to make biofuels is so simple, people can technically do it at home


In fact, when Rudolph Diesel first built his engine, he planned on using vegetable oils as fuel instead of petroleum. Henry Ford also attempted to make biofuel the standard in his cars.




Practicality


Here’s where the dream and the reality do not match. One of the reasons petroleum is the fuel market leader is because it is much easier to produce in large quantities, and is more cost effective than biofuels.


Hemp does not produce that much oil per acre when compared to some other plants. For hemp oil to completely replace all fossil fuels in the United States, it could require over half of the land in the country to be dedicated to hemp farming. Obviously, that is not a viable option. Even to replace current biofuel outputs (from soy and corn), the acreage necessary for the undertaking would be massive. In both of these scenarios, the farmers would be selling at a loss to even get anywhere near a favorable price for the consumer.


That being said, hemp is not completely out of the picture. Most hemp produced in the US is not only intended for fuel. Hemp is used for textiles, CBD, oil, and countless other purposes. It is possible that farmers who have marketed to one industry may be able to boost their sales by branching out and reaching more customers. Even if a farmer plants for CBD, they may be able to also sell some of their product to be converted to fuel.




The Takeaway


Hemp may not provide all the answers, but it has shined a light on some exciting futures. As the world looks for more renewable energy sources, hemp may become part of that movement. Who knows what advancements in science and technology are just around the corner that can make hemp the face of the renewable energy world. Getting in on the ground floor can prove to be a great investment.


Whatever space in the hemp world you occupy, Sonder Accounting is here to provide you with high quality, industry-specific accounting. We have years of experience helping hemp-related businesses, from CBD brands to building materials to services, use their financial data to make stronger decisions.


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Sonder Accounting was founded in 2016 by Kara Janowsky to serve the financial maagement needs of the nascent cannabis industry. Our small and specialized team has partnered with over 250 businesses in similar industries to build functional financials that drive business growth:

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