September 6, 2009 – I was just watching Jodie and Marc walking through the hemp field and I thought it would be a good time to share my hemp ethanol research with y’all!
In this day of oil wars, peak oil (and the accompanying soaring prices), climate change and oil spills such as the Exxon-Valdez, it’s more important than ever to promote sustainable alternatives such as hemp ethanol.
Hemp turns out to be the most cost-efficient and valuable of all the fuel crops!
And as it turns out, the whole reason for hemp prohibition – and alcohol prohibition – may have been a fuel monopoly!
(i)Insert from Part One: The Economics of Hemp Fuels—
I decided to investigate these arguments against biofuels and hemp fuels by bouncing them off people doing research in this area. I spoke with Adrian Francis Clarke of Fibre (Europe) Laboratory LTD, Don Wirtshafter of the Ohio Hempery, Tim Castleman of fuelandfiber.com, and Shaun Crew of Hemp Oil Canada.
It is important to understand that hemp provides two types of fuel; hemp biodiesel – made from the oil of the hemp seed, and hemp ethanol/methanol – made from the fermented stalk. To clarify further, ethanol is made from such things as grains, sugars, starches, waste paper & forest products, and methanol is made from woody matter. Through processes such as gasification, acid hydrolysis and enzymes, hemp can be used to make both ethanol and methanol.
I asked questions about the current prices of hemp biodeisel and hemp ethanol/methanol, and what these prices would be post cannabis relegalization. To be economically viable, these fuels would have to be cheaper than gasoline, currently priced at up to 120 cents per liter (Can.) (7) or up to 3 dollars per gallon (US) (8) Of course, petroleum prices could get much more expensive in the near future, a topic which will be covered in the third part of this article under “peak oil”…
Hemp methanol, on the other hand, does make the fuel lineup. According to Tim, hemp ethanol could be produced for 1.37 per gallon plus the cost of the feedstock, with technological improvements and tax credits reducing the price another dollar or so per gallon! (14) And the cost of the feedstock would become much more available as more hemp was grown for more products, providing more and more free (or nearly-free) feedstock as a “waste product”. Could you imagine paying under 50 cents per gallon (US) or 15 cents per liter (CAN) for your hemp ethanol?!!”