Biodiesel & BioPlastic
Researchers at UConn have found that the fiber crop Cannabis sativa, known as industrial hemp, has properties that make it viable and even attractive as a raw material, or feedstock, for producing biodiesel – sustainable diesel fuel made from renewable plant sources.
The plant’s ability to grow in infertile soils also reduces the need to grow it on primary croplands, which can then be reserved for growing food, says Richard Parnas, a professor of chemical, materials, and biomolecular engineering who led the study.
“For sustainable fuels, often it comes down to a question of food versus fuel,” says Parnas, noting that major current biodiesel plants include food crops such as soybeans, olives, peanuts, and rapeseed. “It’s equally important to make fuel from plants that are not food, but also won’t need the high-quality land.”October 6, 2010 By Christine Buckley, University of Connecticut https://m.phys.org/news/2010-10-hemp-viable-biodiesel.html
More recently under consideration by the Federal Government is aviation fuel for commercial and military use. Aviation biofuel for aircraft is considered by some to be the primary means by which the aviation industry can reduce its carbon footprint. After a multi-year technical review from aircraft makers, engine manufacturers and oil companies, biofuels were approved for commercial use in July 2011. Since then, some airlines have experimented with using of biofuels on commercial flights.
The focus of the industry has now turned to second generation sustainable biofuels (sustainable aviation fuels) that do not compete with food supplies nor are major consumers of prime agricultural land or fresh water. NASA has determined that 50% aviation biofuel mixture can cut air pollution caused by air traffic by 50-70%.
On October 2007 Greenflight International made the very first flight of an aircraft powered entirely by 100% biofuel from the Reno, Stead airport. inJune 2011 KLM flew the world’s first commercial biofuel flight, carrying 171 passengers from Amsterdam to Paris.
Biodegradable Plastic Alternatives
Standard plastic is made from fossil fuels using synthetic chemicals. Almost everything we buy is wrapped in some form of plastic and our landfills are full of all forms of petrochemical/synthetic plastics. The insidious epidemic of plastic wastes is a direct threat to life on Earth. Read more here.
Versatile, pliable, durable, cheap to produce—and ubiquitous. Plastic is all of that. It is also both a life-saving miracle product and the scourge of the Earth. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution/
A variety of alternatives to plastic can be made from hemp, all far superior in strength, versatility, and environmental impact over PLA (Polylactic Acid) that is derived from corn starch, cassava roots, chips or starch, or sugarcane.
In 1941, Henry Ford held a media event where he swung an axe at a prototype car body made of hemp and other plant material to prove its strength. The technology was never put into mass production and cars continued to be made of steel, and plastics made from petrochemicals became the norm. Fortunately, the number of available products made from hemp plastics is on the increase as awareness of the importance of developing sustainable alternatives grows.