• Darby Hemp

Hemp Biofuel: No Green New Deal Without It

Industrial hemp should be of paramount importance to anyone supporting radical environmentally-tied economic measures like the Green New Deal. In fact, hemp can do most of the greenering work in terms of both addressing climate change realities and economic inequality.

No, not just flower-hemp which is being used for non-intoxicant cannabinoid production (CBD, CBG, CBN, etc.), but fiber and grain cultivars as well.

Unlike the Green New Deal, recent developments with industrial hemp in the agricultural sector don't enjoy such fantastic PR despite the resource being capable of bringing us to a 100% clean, renewable energy sector by 2030...and we don't need much government stimulus to pull this off.

Just let farmers farm hemp, for fiber, seed, hurd and extract.

If anything the government should be incentivizing and helping farmers plant millions of acres (similar to efforts during the war in 1942 but on a larger scale). Many know that's what the 2018 Farm Bill was about, but should something similar to the Green New Deal be adopted, how much of these initiative funds will go to hemp farmers, processors, and biolfuel companies?

While sifting through currently available info on hemp biofuel at the beginning of 2019, you continuously run into a collective ‘if only’ statement in pre-2018 Farm Bill articles:

Industrial hemp is perfectly capable of fueling the modern world without displacing food or adding to the greenhouse effect, if only it were embraced…

Pertaining to the U.S., where tons of the world’s most ardent hempsters reside, 

We could easily fuel the states with completely green carbon-neutral plant energy if only we had a domestic supply and it were federally legal to farm…

The fact America could fuel herself through plants was demonstrated decades ago, hemp being the wisest of choices for a wide variety of economic, agronomic, and ecological reasons.

After passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the reclassification of industrial hemp as an agricultural crop, this if-only statement's no longer relevant with respect to prohibition. Not only is it legal to farm (now defined as a Cannabis Sativa L. plant with equal or less than 0.3% THC), but the plant’s natural compounds are also federally legal as well - which includes up to 0.3% THC with no restrictions on other naturally-occurring elements like CBD, CBN, CBG, terpenes, etc.

If you're wondering why the recent law's so wide open, USDA reps said one of their goals with the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act in regards to hemp was to give states as much wiggle room as possible to come up with their own sets of regulations regarding the crop and its compounds.

So... now what?

Going back to Henry Ford’s original Model T partly made of and and run on hemp, not to mention the original diesel engine designed for biofuel, a mind-blowing fact remains [1]:

Dried biomass has a heating value of 5000-8000 Btu/lb. with virtually no ash or sulfur produced during combustion. About 6% [to now 10%] of contiguous United States land area put into cultivation for biomass could supply all current demands for oil and gas. And this production would not add any net carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Do you know how tempting it is to off on ways hemp fiber could turn the fashion industry completely green? Imagine the impacts globally when you consider apparel & footwear accounts for closing in on 10% of human-caused global climate impacts.

Here's a quote from an April 2019 CBS News article, "Fashion industry's carbon impact bigger than airline industry's",

"Total greenhouse gas emissions related to textiles production are equal to 1.2 billion tons annually -- more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping trips combined, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation."

Getting back to the biofuel angle which inevitably meshes with the fashion industry in countless ways, a biofuel-based infrastructure would create a largely decentralized power grid without the insanely massive corporations. Each county and state could provide its own energy using easily renewable plants.

Let that seed sprout in the garden of your mind...

Example: In Colorado a company called Vega Biofuels offers bio-coal which is renewable, comparable in price to conventional coal and produced using terrefaction technology. Biochar can sequester carbon in the soil for hundreds to thousands of years without the negative impacts. Imagine this happening on a wider scale across 5, 10, or 20 states.

Yep, biofuel's a reality and hemp's the ticket, backed by scientific research from multiple countries who’ve experimented with a variety of biofuels alongside hemp like Canada, Nigeria [2], across Northern Europe [3], Latvia [4], and so on.

According to some, industrial hemp biofuel performs second only to algae

  • While it can vary depending on cultivar and where it’s grown, hemp-cannabis yields an average of nine dry tons per acre. [5]

  • This means if allowed to flourish, hemp would quickly reach a point where it’s producing greater biomass tonnage per acre annually in more regions of America than either pulpwood or kenaf.

  • Hemp is 80% cellulose: both a low-moisture herbaceous and woody plant.

  • Industrial hemp, in comparison to corn’s 34% energy gain because of its high cellulose content, has an estimated 540% energy gain! [6]

  • According to the USDA (who the 2018 Farm Bill designates as the overseer of the U.S. Hemp industry along with the U.S. Attorney General), one acre planted in hemp produces as much pulp as 4.1 acres of trees. But you can harvest some cultivars 2 times a year with even better output.

That last one comes from a 1916 report where they predicted by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and no more trees would need be cut down. But here we go again, none of this is novel information (except to a good percentage of the younger generations supporting Green New Deal-style initiatives)...it’s included in every ‘Hemp 101’ handbook.

Colorado's been producing hemp paper for a couple years now. We bought a few pages just to see how it smelled and it smelled like environmental salvation.


Yeah, hemp paper posters, postcards, envelopes, flyers and much more all made from Colorado-grown hemp stalk. Check out Tree Free Hemp. Expect to see similar options coming from a variety of states within a matter of years!

The End of Hemp Farming Prohibition in America

Which means the reinforced double-sided industrial hemp doors just flew opened after being nailed shut for nearly a century while the fossil fuel, petro-plastic, dirty-energy, cotton clothing, soy-bean and factory farm animal protein industries (to name a few) relished in hemp prohibition.

Thankfully, because of all that madness we have a MASSIVE resources ready to be transitioned into leveraging hemp as a multi-purpose crop where we can create ample (protein and fatty acid-rich) food and biofuel. All we can hope is ‘the people’ getting behind efforts like the Green New Deal rally and really surf this 21st century hemp-based agricultural revolution. 

Again, the hemp farming industry by itself can accomplish most of what the Green New Deal is setting its sights on by itself if supported and allowed to flourish outside the confines of Big Ag - although we need them on board as well.

How America Will Produce Hemp Biofuel

Hemp biofuel comes from hemp seed oil - the same seed oil you can drizzle on salads, add to a smoothie or feed to livestock - and the rest of the plant can be made into either ethanol or methanol.

North America has absolutely no problem extracting oil from seed we can then use to make biofuel. Furthermore, most of the ethanol added to gasoline we currently put into our cars comes from less efficient and environmentally-friendly food crops like wheat and corn. We can use hemp to efficiently make both - ethanol/methanol and biofuel/biodiesel. University of Connecticut’s research shows hemp seed oil provides a 97% conversion rate into biodiesel [7]. America and Canada both have the infrastructure to switch to industrial hemp-based supply chains within a decade - far less with enough public and corporate support.

According to a relatively small survey conducted early April 2019 by Morning Consult (they talked to just shy of 2,000 voters across age, education and political spectrums),

"Voters say 100% renewable electricity by 2030 is more important than other steps to fight climate change."

For more info-nuggets we can turn to statistics put out from Health Canada who regulates their industrial hemp industry, showing Canadian hemp farmers planted 138,000 acres in 2017 (comparatively, in 1942 alone, during WW2 American farmers planted an estimated 375,000 acres for the war effort at the government's behest).

Most of this Canadian hemp seed is processed into seed oil, as well as hemp seed protein and hearts, which oddly enough was/is sold to Americans where we already have a robust food processing infrastructure.

America and Canada have everything already in place in terms of land and plant processing equipment to create a completely human/environmentally-friendly energy system. That’s the truth. Soon, both countries will have more hemp than they’ll know what to do with and all the astounding wonders hempsters have been preaching for decades can manifest. 

Videos already exist online showing ordinary people making vegetable oil-based biofuel in their backyard to drive their vehicles right this moment.

The process isn't a secret.

What’ll shock the American populace most will be the tremendous amount of industrial hemp seed flowing across the country within a decade.

"When cold-pressed, 8,000 pounds of hemp seed yield over 300 gallons of hemp seed oil and a byproduct of 6,000 pounds of high protein hemp flour."[8]

A healthy, irrigated acre of seed-based hemp in Colorado in late 2018, as an example, produced 1,100-2000 pounds of seed. [9]

Let’s not even mention what Kentucky could produce on a larger scale...or Oregon...North Dakota... North Carolina...Montana, and so on. We could EASILY spread out hemp farms to collectively 6-15% of the U.S. and cover our energy needs - completely eradicating fossil fuels.

Idealistic, sure, but what if by 2025, thanks to hemp America became 50% less dependent on conventional dirty fuels - across all sectors of our country?

When you sit back and begin to fathom the overall impacts of what that would mean worldwide…

Reclamation into Fuel Efforts

One of the core uses of planting industrial hemp across greater America between 2019-2022 would be for use in farmland reclamation - bioremediation - efforts. This is going to clean up the soil, restoring farmland to its glory with dramatically less heavy metals, petrol-based pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, landfill runoff and nitrogen leak. 

Another note in every Hemp 101 handbook is how the plant’s been used around toxic waste dumps and even radioactive events like Chernobyl or Fukushima to effectively absorb cadmium from the soil.

Obviously none of this hemp should go to human or livestock consumption...but what to do?

Research shows it can be safely and efficiently transformed it into energy.

A Note on Pyrolysis

Pyrolysis is perhaps the most efficient process for hemp biomass conversion - capable of competing against initially, and then potentially becoming a replacement for fossil fuels.

Pyrolysis is the thermochemical process that converts organic materials into usable fuels. Pyrolysis produces energy fuels with high fuel-to-feed ratios, making it the most efficient process for biomass conversion...the technique of applying high heat to organic matter (lignocellulosic materials) in the absence of air or in reduced air. The process can produce charcoal, condensable organic liquids (pyrolytic fuel oil), non-condensable gasses, acetic acid, acetone, and methanol. The process can be adjusted to favor charcoal, pyrolytic oil, gas, or methanol production with a 95.5% fuel-to-feed efficiency” [10]

People with capital, with resources and government clout should get behind and support hemp.

If the Green New Deal is appealing to you, hemp is a way.

Fund agronomic and cannabinoid-based research. Fund the renovation of supply chains with hemp. Support innovation and American infrastructure to boost our production, processing, and manufacturing of this species now that it's once again been set free. We need farmers to start hemp growing for biofuel along with the ultra-lucrative hemp-derived CBD concentrates/extracts.

We need to step up now - for fiber, seed, hurd, and flower.

We need energy companies to start converting from using other less efficient sources of biofuel to hemp.

What do you think?

If you agree...

That hemp biofuel is a very serious answer to many aspects of climate-change-response agendas, let us know with a comment, and don't forget you can Cast your lot in with the DH crowd whenever you're ready. For those who already have...we salute you.


References [1] ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY, Stanley E. Manahan. Willard Grant Press, 1984.

[2] "Biomass resources and biolfuels potential for the production of transportation fuels in Nigeria" Juliet Ben-Iwo, Vasilije Manovic, PhilipLonghurst, ScienceDirect.

[3] "Biomass and energy yield of industrial hemp grown for biogas and solid fuel" ThomasPrade, Sven-ErikSvensson, et al, ScienceDirect.

[4] "Industrial hemp for biomass production" Rudite Sausserde, Aleksandris Adamovics, ResearchGate, 09/2013.

[5]Lyster H. Dewey, Jason L. Merrill, Hemp Hurds As Papermaking Material, U.S.D.A. Bulletin No. 404, 1916.

[6]“The Legalization of Industrial Hemp and What It Could Mean for Indiana's Biofuel Industry”, Nicole M. Keller, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, pg. 24.

[7] "Hemp Produces Viable Biodiesel, UConn Study Finds" Christine Buckley, UConn Today, 10/06/2010.

[8] "Hemp is the ultimate cash crop, producing more fiber, food and oil than any other plant on the planet" Wm. Conde, Fiber Alternatives PDF.

[9] “Myth-Busting: Hemp Needs More Water than Many Think”, Hemp Industry Daily, May 7, 2018.

[10] "Biomass Resources for Energy and Industry" Lynn and Judy Osburn, 1993.

[7] “Hemp Biodiesel: When the Smoke Clears”, Biodiesel Magazine, Holly Jessen, January 24, 2007. 

What's Darby Hemp About?

Human societies are only as strong as their resources. Our platform is inspired by the desire to support a resurgent American hemp industry - its people, its economic impacts, its environmental promises.

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