History of Industrial Hemp

November 7, 2009 – “Flax is so injurious to our lands, and so scanty produce, that I have never attempted (using) it. Hemp, on the other hand, is abundantly productive and will grow forever onhempsketchpaper1 the same spot.” –
Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, Journal Entry of December 29, 1815

A reaction to the loss of the world’s rainforests is an attempt to find alternate sources of fiber for paper – to replace wood fiber. One pro hemp group that some call the “industrial hemp movement” would have you believe hemp fiber is the answer to deforestation.

Some hemp supporters legitimately want to use hemp for manufactured products including paper. Others may be pursuing the agenda of legalizing Cannabis sativa C. Linnaeus for medicinal and recreational uses and are using the “alternative use” issue as an end-run to legalization.

Another name for this plant is marijuana.

The History of Hemp Fiber

The Chinese used hemp for paper as far back as 8,000 BC. Ancient documents have been retrieved that were totally hemp based. This is certainly a testament to the ability of hemp fiber to withstand the destructive nature of time.

Herodotus writes that Thracians used both the wild and cultivated fiber for cloth. He marveled at the garments made from hemp and compared it to linen. He also wrote about the purification rites associated with “vapor-baths” and breathing smoldering smoke from moist hemp seed.

Hemp’s by-product is tetrahydracannabinol (THC) and is a psychoactive chemical generally absorbed through the respiratory system or digestive tract with a significant effect on perception and cognitive abilities.

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were advocates of Cannabis fiber and recommended their fellow countrymen to use the plant for lamp oil and fabric for uniforms and clothing. Jefferson found its cloth a rival to cotton, at much less cost and he used it to clothe his farm hands. George Washington was said to be more familiar with the plant as a drug.

The last legal hemp crop was harvested in 1957 due to competitive industrial product shifts and a restrictive U.S. Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Today, in many countries, it is illegal to grow hemp without a government permit – and the permits are nearly impossible to get.

The Industrial Hemp Movement

There is now a worldwide revival of value-added hemp products as an alternative material for building, food products, health and beauty aids, fabrics, car fuel, and paper. It does not seem to be catching on as the Worlds demand for industrial hemp fiber is not increasing.

The Argument For Hemp Paper…

Dave Seber, in an interview for High Times magazine, indicated that being in the “lumber business for almost 15 years now…I have watched the forests being taken out here.” Seber has been a redwood logger and president of C&S Lumber, an R&D organization in Oregon dedicated to finding replacement fibers for wood.

“As I see it,” Seber says “we’ve got 10 to 20 years, tops, before the entire ecosystem, as we know it, will collapse because of what they are doing in these forests.” He goes on to suggest that the “environmental threat” to forests will worsen if no alternate fiber to wood is found. And, as you probably guessed, he thinks hemp is the answer.

Edit: This prediction was made in 1997.

Carol Moran heads a company called Living Tree Paper Company in Eugene, Oregon. She, according to an article in ENN Online, is convinced that hemp can “single-handedly stop worldwide deforestation.” Her company’s magazine is even printed on non-tree hemp paper.

Mary Kane, publisher of HempWorld, a quarterly journal of the hemp movement says that “eventually the DEA will be forced to relinquish the ban on hemp farming. It’s a plant that can provide alternatives to anything synthetic.” She further states that “hemp can save the world but we have to give it a chance.”

Hemp advocates argue that hemp fiber is more durable than wood and can be recycled more frequently than tree fiber. Hemp produces a highly nutritious seed crop that can be of comparable value to the fiber crop. Agriculturally grown hemp would fit well with natural forests and tree plantations.

The Argument Against Hemp Paper…

Detractors of the annual agricultural production of hemp fiber are just as vocal against growing hemp fiber. They contend that hemp farming is very demanding on the environment and would negate any possible benefits ascribed to it. Hemp fiber would be cost prohibitive when compared to silvicultural production of wood fiber.

Any annual crop demands a period of establishment and reestablishment, during which the site has to be intensely cultivated and treated for weeds and pests. This has to be repeated until the crop is properly established and done on an annual basis for crops like flax, wheat, cotton, or hemp. Most tree species, even if grown on a fast rotation, would mean less site disturbance and have much less need for chemicals; Trees are more forgiving of site preparation, chemical support, and revisits after planting.

Large areas of cultivated fields would be necessary. This would, in itself, mean clearing land of trees and would comprise the best land in terms of fertility and topography. Irrigation would become necessary in some areas for best production. Tending hemp would be expensive and compete for land and other resources.

Dr. Patrick Moore writing on the subject on his web site Greenspirit indicates that “at least twice as much nutrient must be available in an easily assimilable form as will finally be removed from the soil by the leaf-free harvest”. Hemp is a nutrient sponge. Crop rotation and the added expense of stripping leaves and flowers would be the desired method of nutrient replacement. All this adds to increased disturbance of the site, the addition of either manure crops or chemical nutrients, and an increase in per acre expense.

The last little kink in the use of hemp for fiber is a significant concern called cost. According to Austrialia’s NAFI and Heike Von Der Lancken, “hemp pulp costs $2,500 per ton as compared to $400 per ton for typical bleached wood pulp.” This would create the need for another farm subsidy to make costs match. By Steve Nix. Source.

October 8, 2009 – If Hemp was discovered today it would be hailed a miracle for mankind as there are so many environmentally friendly products the plant and its byproducts can provide. If consumers want to contribute to a better planet, they need look no further than to choose products made with hemp. This post explores the huge potential impact of hemp – if only it were legal for farmers to grow and process in the United States.

Hunger and Starvation

The world is going through great suffering at present, with millions of people starving and millions more struggling to cope with the high cost of living. Most of these problems can be traced back to agriculturehunger and oil. Current unnatural farming methods require large amounts of money to be spent on pesticides and herbicides, making farming practices economically and environmentally unsustainable.

At the same time, the world’s population is increasing and the global community is desperate for a solution to meet the food requirements of all countries. Fortunately, there is a solution available – Hemp. Growing the hemp plant and using it to create thousands of products ranging from food, textiles, building materials, plastics etc. is a highly sustainable way to address hunger and a myriad of economic and social issues our world currently faces. (A more comprehensive discussion of this potential can be found here: Hemp: Africa’s Solution to Hunger and Poverty )

70 Years of Propaganda

The media portrayal of marijuana and drugs is largely responsible for the negative perception of hemp, Picture 37but most people fail to realize that commercial hemp is actually unfit for use as an intoxicant. THC, the active ingredient of regular cannabis responsible for producing the ‘high’ effect in drug users, is typically found in quantities of up to 20% or more. Industrial hemp on the other hand, generally contains less than 0.3% THC content, which is not enough to cause any physical or psychological effects. Smoking industrial hemp to get high is akin to trying to get drunk from non-alcoholic beer.

Hemp has a lengthy history of being a productive crop, even in the USA. Early presidents Washington and Jefferson used to grow the crop personally, and during a few different periods Americans were actually legally bound to grow hemp. The US government even produced a short movie in 1942 entitled Hemp for Victory to help encourage farmers to grow hemp.

Big Business Bans Hemp

Hemp was effectively banned with the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, but a chronic oil and material shortage during the Second World War meant the government desperately needed hemp again. It was1232477-TaxStamp re-legalized in 1942 and promoted with the Hemp for Victory movie. The original ban was at the request of big industry and after the shortages subsided it didn’t take long before they once again made sure that hemp wasn’t able to compete with their business interests.

The problem is that hemp is a naturally occurring solution to many of the world’s problems, and therefore can’t be patented and controlled by individuals. DuPont was one of the main companies behind the ban of hemp, which they pushed for shortly after patenting a nylon rope made from synthetic petrochemicals. In addition to the petrochemical industries, it also threatened the cotton, oil and timber industries, who formed an alliance to make sure hemp was outlawed.

Simply the Best

As well as being one of the earliest known domesticated plants, hemp is one of the fastest growing bio-masses known. The bark of the stalk contains possibly the longest natural soft fibers in the world. John+Deere+-+Hemp+FarmingThese two properties provide tremendous advantages over other crops in terms of practicality and uses.

Hemp is also very environmentally friendly. It grows well in a number of different soil types and climates, and is naturally resilient to weeds and pests. Some farmers even use it as a natural weed suppressor. The use of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides and are widely unnecessary, with the plant rarely being attacked and strong enough to ward off the few pests which are attracted to it. They don’t call it ‘Weed’ without a reason, as it is able to grow strong like a weed without any assistance.

Wide Variety of Uses

The practical uses for hemp never seem to end, ranging from replacements for many of our current energy, clothing and building material sources to more simple uses such as fishing bait, cooking products and paints.


Hemp seeds are possibly the most easily digestible source of complete proteins; contain high levels of Picture 39dietary fiber and B-vitamins, as well as containing all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids in the most appropriate ratios for human consumption. Their profile is so complete that if a human was to eat one thing for the rest of their life, they would live the longest on hemp seeds. Since they can be eaten raw, ground, sprouted or made into milk; hemp seeds can be used as a replacement for flour, butter, protein powder, milk and ice-cream. By the way, the seed is not psychoactive and will not act as a drug.

Fuel and Plastics

Biofuels such as biodiesel can be produced from the oil in hemp seeds and stalks. The fermentation of the whole plant can also produce alcohol fuel. Hemp can produce ten times more methanol than is possible from corn and seems an ideal substitute for the massive amounts corn crops around the world planted to provide fuel for vehicles. The hemp fibers are perfect for producing plastic moulded products, rather than relying on oil for their production. They are also well suited for the creation of biodegradable plastic products.


Similar to the way ancient cultures added straw to clay to reinforce bricks, hemp fibers added to hemp_house_lm190609concrete increase tensile strength, as well as reducing shrinkage and cracking. It can also be mixed with gypsum to produce light panels, or lime to make plaster. A combination mixture can be used for foundations, walls and ceilings, which is lighter than cement and has better sound and heat insulating properties. There has even been a ceramic tile equivalent produced. The quality of building materials is such that whole houses have been made based on hemp fiber.


The actual building structure is not the only thing that can benefit from hemp’s insulating properties. semi-rigid-hemp-insulation-panel-140000The production of thermal insulation products is one of the most important sectors of the hemp industry. Hemp hurds are perfect to use due to their high silica content, and can be mixed with lime to produce a material which can be blown into areas requiring insulation. Since it is naturally renewable, it is better for the environment and can help to reduce heating costs for existing households.


Hemp is a major competitor to the cotton industry. It produces 250% more fibers than cotton and hempconversedoesn’t require the same cocktail of chemicals cotton needs to grow successfully. It is said that around half of the world’s pesticides are used on cotton crops. Hemp is also far stronger, durable, absorbent, insulative and resistant to UV light and mold than cotton. Although it is generally coarse, advancements in processing have enabled a softening of hemp fibers to a comfortable level. Apart from shoes and clothing, hemp can also be used to produce coarse textiles such as upholstery and carpets.


The United States Constitution was drafted on hemp paper. uc06330Hemp can produce more than four times the dry weight of fiber in comparison to the average forest on the same size land. Additionally, trees will take approximately twenty years to regrow, where hemp can reach maturity in around four months. Apart from being far more practical to produce paper in terms of growth times and production levels, hemp paper is of a far superior quality to tree paper. Wood pulp paper may be lucky to last 50 years, whereas hemp pulp paper has been known to last centuries or even millennia. It can also be recycled many more times than traditional paper.

Personal Care Products

Hempseed oil has a wide variety of uses, especially in the personal care product range. It is widely used in creams as a moisturizing agent and is excellent for skin care. It is also present in a number of leading brand’s lotions, moisturizers, lip balms and perfumes. Bathroom products containing hemp are also popular, with soaps, shampoos and bubble baths being sold having a hemp component.

Motor vehicles

Today, many car parts are manufactured using hemp products. Their history dates back to 1941, where Henry Ford produced a car with a plastic body which was made from approximately 70% hemp fibers. picture-10Although the idea came about partly due to a steel shortage, tremendous benefits were revealed. The car could withstand blows ten times greater than steel without denting. It was so powerful that Ford used to swing an axe at the vehicle to show it would not be damaged. Unfortunately, the Marijuana Tax Act made production unviable and although some car parts are produced today, the full potential of hemp cars has never been realized.


Never has a more perfect solution been available to solve so many of the world’s problems. But the sad fact is that unless we rise up as a people and demand a change, we are unlikely to ever see the full benefits of hemp around the globe. This is because there are so many well established interest groups in the many sectors of the economy where hemp can provide benefit – interest groups who do not want to see it succeed. The potential benefits to mankind though are just too large to ignore – and we must work together to see that hemp is once again returned to a revered status in our economy.


Please also see:
Hemp: Africa’s Solution to Hunger and Poverty
Canada – Hemp Bringing Highs to Farmers’ Lows

October 3, 2009 – by Hana Haatainen Caye – Do you know what happens when you smoke hemp? Not a whole lot. You may end up with a cough or a headache, but you certainly won’t end up with a high. Surprised? Most people are hempbecause they mistakenly think hemp is the same thing as marijuana. It’s not; even though they are both members of the plant species cannabis sativa and bear an uncanny resemblance. Actually, the psychoactive properties in marijuana come from the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in the flower of the plant. While the THC values in marijuana are about 15% – 20%, they’re only standardized at about 0.3% in industrial hemp.

So what’s all the hype with hemp? It’s actually an eco-friendly renewable resource that is once again warranting attention in the United States (although it’s not legal to commercially grow here). Hemp is an excellent alternative to cotton when it comes to clothing, as hemp is more resilient and water-resistant, offers better breathe-ability, and is, quite simply, softer and warmer. With the look of linen and the feel of flannel, it’s no wonder clothing made of hemp is gaining in popularity.

But clothing isn’t the only thing hemp is used for. Consider these facts:

* When used for building material, hemp is known to be better than wood in terms of quality and strength, as well as being less expensive
* Paper made from hemp can be recycled up to 7 times, versus only 4 times for paper made from wood pulp
* Hemp has 10 times less toxicity than salt and is as biodegradable as sugar
* When used to make bio-diesel fuel, it emits 80% less carbon dioxide and close to 100% less sulfur dioxide
* It boasts a production rate of up to 10 tons per acre every 4 months
* It matures in about 100 days versus the 50 – 100 years for a tree to mature
* Hemp crops are heat, cold, mildew, pest, light, drought and rot resistant
* There are far less chemicals used to produce fabric made of hemp than of cotton and other fibers
* The woody stalks, or hurds, of the hemp plant are used for a variety of products, including: paper, plastics, animal bedding and more efficient and cleaner burning fuels, such as ethanol and methane
* The plant fibers are perfect for clothing, canvas, paper, textiles and rope, as well as replacements for heavier toxic fibers and building materials generally made with recycled plastic and fiber

One of the most beneficial parts of the hemp plant comes from the seed which contains many nutrients for both human and animal consumption. The hemp seed consists of

* Calcium
* Magnesium
* Phosphorus
* Potassium
* Vitamin A
* Protein (25%)
* Insoluble fiber (15%)
* Carbohydrates (30%)

It also is the absolute best vegetable source of essential fatty acids, with 55% Omega 3 linoleic acid and 25% Omega 6 linoleic acid, as well as gama linoleic acid.

Hemp seeds can be used in baking or cooking, crushed or whole. Hempseed oil is the principle product derived from the seed and has many uses from nutrition to cosmetics to paints and varnishes.

The multiple uses of the hemp plant, coupled with its eco-friendly properties, makes it the perfect crop choice for farmers across America. So why are we not seeing this invaluable plant being harvested from coast to coast?

Well, not to sound cynical, but you’d have to ask a politician about this. After all, it’s the powers-that-be that enforce the law that makes industrial hemp production in the U.S. illegal. But it wasn’t always this way.

Up until 1883, nearly 90% of all paper in this country was made with hemp rather than wood pulp. Four million pounds of hemp seed was sold in the States in 1937, and up until that year, almost 90% of all rope and twine was manufactured from the hemp plant. Then there’s the car Henry Ford built in 1941, made from a hemp and wheat straw plastic. However, the popularity of hemp and its abundance seemed to be cutting into the potential profits of men like William Randolph Hearst and Pierre DuPont, who collaborated and succeeded in making hemp an illegal crop in the U.S. in 1937. What did they have to gain? Well, Hearst held interests in multiple lumber mills and personally owned huge forests. DuPont used petroleum to manufacture synthetic fuels and fibers, such as rayon, nylon and a variety of plastics. The versatility of hemp wasn’t welcome in their world.

Seventy-plus years later, what have we learned? Well, we’ve experienced an energy crisis, polluted our air and waterways, found that chemicals in synthetics can be a danger to our health, endangered our wildlife species with the destruction of the forests, created holes in our ozone layer, etc., etc.

Could this have been avoided? Possibly. Researchers estimate the if just 6% of the continental United States would be planted with hemp crops, this would provide for ALL our national energy needs. Is this factual? I don’t know. But it certainly should be worth investigating. So why is our government sitting on its hands on this one? Is it that there are too many Hearsts and DuPonts out there blocking the way for real change?

I don’t know about you, but this makes me angry. When I think about the possibility that we could have fuel with far less toxic emissions, affordable clothing that wouldn’t be chemically treated, healthy alternative sources of essential fatty acids, etc. I just want to schedule a meeting with the higher ups and ask them why it isn’t happening. They talk the talk of independence from foreign oil, but when given a sensible alternative, they turn a deaf ear. Angry…you bet I am. And frustrated with the stupidity and ignorance of people who continue to think it should be illegal, because they refuse to differentiate between hemp and marijuana. Source.

September 27, 2009 – Society may be moving away from paper dependency, but we’re not there yet. Forty-two per cent of the world’s industrial wood harvest goes to the production of paper, and 87 per cent of that paper is used by industrialized western nations like the United States and Canada. And despite its pristine appearance, paper is anything but clean.

The process industrial paper makers use to turn wood pulp into paper has been shown to result in a number of harmful chemical by-products such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxide, mercury, nitrates, methanol, benzene, chloroform, and dioxins. Despite its negative side effects wood paper is the only game in town these days, but it wasn’t always that way.

Back in the day hemp paper was a popular and widely used alternative to wood paper. Many of the founding documents of the United States are printed on hemp: two drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Hemp paper doesn’t require bleaching, lasts longer and is more durable than its wood-based brother. So why didn’t it catch on?

Declaration of Independence

At first the reason was a practical one. When the Industrial Revolution took the Western world by storm, people built machines to make larger amounts of paper faster, to meet with the growing demand brought on by the spread of literacy. Hemp, however, proved too much for the first machines. Its fibers were too tough. And so wood pulp based paper became the golden standard.
People didn’t give up on hemp, though. In the early 1920s and ‘30s mechanization was getting more sophisticated and industrial hemp paper production looked like a viable option. Hemp, being a highly renewable resource and relatively easy to grow, had the potential to revolutionize the paper industry (among others). Deforestation could be slowed and many of the harmful chemicals used in the making of paper could be done away with.

But by this time there was a whole industry based around the use and production of wood pulp paper. People had become rich off wood and they wanted to keep the money coming, people like William Randolph Hearst.

Hearst owned a large number of newspapers in the United States. He also owned large tracts of forest and paper mills. Using his newspapers Hearst launched a massive smear campaign against hemp. He published any number of articles with headlines like, “Marihuana Makes Fiends of Boys in 30 Days,” and “Hasheesh Goads Users to Blood Lust.” His articles actually popularized the term Marihuana. Many of the articles published in Hearst’s papers would later be used as evidence against hemp in the mid-1930s when the U.S. government held hearings to consider whether the plant and its relatives should become controlled substances.

In 1937 after various hearings on numerous levels of government, the U.S. adopted the Marihuana Act. This act didn’t criminalize the possession or cultivation of hemp, but it might as well have. A tax was levied on anyone who dealt commercially with hemp (by this time Hearst’s campaign had proved so successful that cannabis and hemp were considered practically the same thing) and strict rules surrounded its production.

Farmers were required to pay $1 a year to register as growers but could be subject to a fine of $2000 or five years in prison if they inadvertently violated the conditions of the Act—for instance should any plant in their crop test above the allowed level of THC (the average income at the time was about $500 a year). Those who chose to pay the tax were required to register their names and place of business with the tax collector who was then obliged to give out that information to anyone who wanted it provided they paid the fee ($1 for every 100 names). Those who wanted to import hemp were charged $1 per ounce of hemp they wished to buy, and were charged a fine of $100 per ounce if found in possession without paying the tax.

As a result most farmers were either too poor or too afraid of the consequences to attempt commercial hemp production and the cost of trying to import hemp into the eager U.S. market became prohibitively high. The technology that would have allowed the large-scale production of hemp paper withered for lack of opportunity, wood pulp kept its monopoly on the paper industry and Hearst continued to make money. The laws that Hearst encouraged with his media blitz are still in place today in the U.S., though in a slightly different form. Source.

September 17, 2009 – Talk about a visionary! Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company over 100 years ago, but even back then; his main object was to build cars that were sensibly priced, yet dependable and 09_018efficient. Yet over the years, it seems as if cars have become less reliable and less affordable. Not to mention the price of gas jumping in the past decade.

To bring his dream to fruition, Ford envisioned cars that ran on hemp ethanol. In fact, Ford was all for using materials like hemp and vegetable matter to run vehicles. He once said, “There’s enough alcohol in one year’s yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for one hundred years.” Can you imagine?

In 1925, he told the New York Times that he thought the fuel of the future would be made of such things as apples, sawdust, weeds, etc. At the time, most others in the car industry agreed. In fact, I read online that government officials had even contacted Ford engineers about coming up with alternatives to leaded gas. Ford felt that growing crops like hemp to make fuel could also help turn around the existing economic crisis that would later become the Great Depression.

By 1941, Ford had created a car whose body was made from hemp, sisal, and wheat straw. Guess what that car ran on? Yes, it ran on hemp ethanol. It seems obvious that gas wasn’t the best fuel for cars. It is toxic, can be dangerous, and has a lower octane rating then ethanol.

If ethanol is better than gas, why aren’t we using it? I’ve read that some people think the auto industry was built around gas powered automobiles and it would be too costly to change. Others think that politics played a hand in the auto industry staying dependent on gasoline.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the automobile forefathers were thinking of automobiles that ran on something other than gasoline. This idea has been around for almost 100 years and yet we are still oil dependent.

Do you think we will see a viable alternative to gasoline any time soon? by Libby Pelham. http://green-living.families.com/blog/henry-ford-and-his-hemp-car

September 10, 2009 – The modern day car owes much of its history to Henry Ford, who dreamed of “producing an automobile that was reasonably priced, Picture 10reliable, and efficient…” Many of Ford’s dreams have not come to fruition since Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903. It is debatable how affordable and reliable today’s autos are, and the average car’s fuel efficiency leaves much to be desired. Today’s auto industry is not what Ford envisioned, especially considering he predicted cars would be constructed of hemp and run on biofuels.

In fact, in 1941 Ford constructed a vehicle made from biodegradable cellulose fibers derived from hemp, sisal, and wheat straw. The car was even fueled by hemp ethanol. In 1925, Ford told the New York Times:

The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit like that sumach out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust — almost anything. There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There’s enough alcohol in one year’s yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years.

Photo by dok1Ford predicted cars would be made from hemp and powered by ethanol.

Ford predicted cars would be made from hemp and powered by ethanol.

Why has it taken us so long to return to Ford’s dreams? There are many factors involved, especially politics, as Bill Kovarik, Ph.D. writes in “Henry Ford, Charles Kettering and the ‘Fuel of the Future’“:

In this case, fuel technology developed in a direction that was a matter of policy choice and not predetermined by any clear advantage of one technology over another. For different reasons, Henry Ford and Charles Kettering both saw the fuel of the future as a blend of ethyl alcohol and gasoline leading to pure alcohol from cellulose. A dedicated agrarian, Ford thought new markets for fuel feedstocks would help create a rural renaissance. On the other hand, Kettering, as a scientist, was worried about the long term problem of the automotive industry’s need for oil, a resource with rapidly declining domestic reserves. Clearly, the shortage of domestic oil that was feared in the 1920s has occurred in the late 20th century, although it has hardly been noticed because of the abundance of foreign oil. Whether the oil substitute envisioned by the scientists and agrarians of the first half of the century would be appropriate in the latter half remains an open question.

Although the merits of ethanol are debatable, its share of the fuel market has grown from one to seven percent in recent years. In addition, Ford’s biomaterials team have invented seats made from hemp and soy. Almost 75 years later, Ford Motor Company may actually be moving in the direction its founding father predicted. by Jennifer Lance. Source.

September 7, 2009 – Henry Ford believed in using Hemp products to make cars. He was green 50 years before GREEN was cool.Picture 6

Henry Ford predicted back in 1925 that the future fuels used to power automobiles, trucks, planes, and power boat engines would come from sustainable and more eco-friendly resources than fossil fuels. He even aggressively supported the use of hemp products to create bio-degradable auto parts.

With so many changes happening in the auto industry, companies like Fisker and Tesla working on electric models, motorsports competitors participating in Formula 3 Racing looking closely at bio-fuels, big name exotics company leaders like Ferrari — who participate in Formula 1 and are planning to release hybrid exotics on the market soon as alternative power source vehicles, sportscar companies like BMW releasing Hydrogen cars, and luxury car companies like Lexus promoting hybrid model daily drivers are finally beginning to provide consumers that are making life more green while keeping owners on the go.

Fuel of the Future
When Henry Ford told a New York Times reporter that ethyl alcohol was “the fuel of the future” in 1925, he was expressing an opinion that was widely shared in the automotive industry. “The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit like that sumach out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust — almost anything,” he said. “There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There’s enough alcohol in one year’s yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years.”

Ford recognized the utility of the hemp plant. He constructed a car of resin stiffened hemp fiber, and even ran the car on ethanol made from hemp. Ford knew that hemp could produce vast economic resources if widely cultivated.

Ford’s optimistic appraisal of cellulose and crop based ethyl alcohol fuel can be read in several ways.

First, it can be seen as an oblique jab at a competitor. General Motors had come to considerable grief that summer of 1925 over another octane boosting fuel called tetra-ethyl lead, and government officials had been quietly in touch with Ford engineers about alternatives to leaded gasoline additives.

Secondly, by 1925 the American farms that Ford loved were facing an economic crisis that would later intensify with the depression. Although the causes of the crisis were complex, one possible solution was seen in creating new markets for farm products. With Ford’s financial and political backing, the idea of opening up industrial markets for farmers would be translated into a broad movement for scientific research in agriculture that would be labelled “Farm Chemurgy.”

Why Henry’s plans were delayed for more than a half century
Ethanol has been known as a fuel for many decades. Indeed, when Henry Ford designed the Model T, it was his expectation that ethanol, made from renewable biological materials, would be a major automobile fuel. However, gasoline emerged as the dominant transportation fuel in the early twentieth century because of the ease of operation of gasoline engines with the materials then available for engine construction, a growing supply of cheaper petroleum from oil field discoveries, and intense lobbying by petroleum companies for the federal government to maintain steep alcohol taxes.

Many bills proposing a National energy program that made use of Americas vast agricultural resources (for fuel production) were killed by smear campaigns launched by vested petroleum interests. One noteworthy claim put forth by petrol companies was that the U.S. government’s plans “robbed taxpayers to make farmers rich”.

Gasoline had many disadvantages as an automotive resource. The “new” fuel had a lower octane rating than ethanol, was much more toxic (particularly when blended with tetra-ethyl lead and other compounds to enhance octane), generally more dangerous, and contained threatening air pollutants.

Petroleum was more likely to explode and burn accidentally, gum would form on storage surfaces and carbon deposits would form in combustion chambers of engines. Pipelines were needed for distribution from “area found” to “area needed”. Petroleum was much more physically and chemically diverse than ethanol, necessitating complex refining procedures to ensure the manufacture of a consistent “gasoline” product.

However, despite these environmental flaws, fuels made from petroleum have dominated automobile transportation for the past three-quarters of a century. There are two key reasons: First, cost per kilometer of travel has been virtually the sole selection criteria. Second, the large investments made by the oil and auto industries in physical capital, human skills and technology make the entry of a new cost-competitive industry difficult.

Until very recently, environmental concerns have been largely ignored. All of that is finally changing as consumers demand fuels such as ethanol, which are much better for the environment and human health. By Kae Davis. Source.

More Information on Hemp:

Why Can’t We Grow Hemp in America?
Hemp Facts
The Case for Hemp in America
The Versatility of the Incredible Hemp Plant and How It Can Help Create a More Sustainable Future

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