Hemp produces viable biodiesel, study finds

Oct 06, 2010 By Christine Buckley
Hemp plant.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Industrial hemp, which grows in infertile soils, is attractive as a potential source of sustainable diesel fuel.

Of all the various uses for Cannabis plants, add another, “green” one to the mix.

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 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.”
Industrial hemp is grown across the world, in many parts of Europe and Asia. Fiber from the plant’s stalk is strong, and until the development of synthetic fibers in the 1950s, it was a premier product used worldwide in making rope and clothing.

Today, there are still parts of the world that rely on Cannabis stalks as a primary fiber, mainly because of its ability to grow “like a weed,” without requiring lots of water, fertilizers, or high-grade inputs to flourish. But the seeds, which house the plant’s natural oils, are often discarded. Parnas points out that this apparent waste product could be put to good use by turning it into fuel.

“If someone is already growing hemp,” he says, “they might be able to produce enough fuel to power their whole farm with the oil from the seeds they produce.” The fact that a hemp industry already exists, he continues, means that a hemp biodiesel industry would need little additional investment.

With his graduate student Si-Yu Li and colleagues James Stuart of the Department of Chemistry and Yi Li of the Department of Plant Sciences, Parnas used virgin hemp seed oil to create biodiesel using a standardized process called transesterification. The group then tested the fuel for a suite of characteristics in the Biofuels Testing Laboratory at UConn’s Center for Environmental Science and Engineering.

The hemp biodiesel showed a high efficiency of conversion – 97 percent of the hemp oil was converted to biodiesel – and it passed all the laboratory’s tests, even showing properties that suggest it could be used at lower temperatures than any biodiesel currently on the market.

Although growing hemp is not legal in the U.S., Parnas hopes that the team’s results will help to spur hemp biodiesel production in other parts of the world. UConn holds a patent on a biodiesel reactor system that could be customized to make biodiesel from a range of sustainable inputs, hemp included.
“Our research data could make buying a reactor system with our technology more attractive,” says Parnas. “If we have data for the production of many different feedstocks, we can tailor the system to meet the company’s needs.”

Parnas, Yi Li, and colleagues Steven Suib of the Department of Chemistry, Fred Carstensen of the Department of Economics, and Harrison Yang of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment are preparing to build a pilot biodiesel production facility using a two-year, $1.8 million grant from the Department of Energy.

The reactor will be capable of producing up to 200,000 gallons of biodiesel per year, and while this production rate is small in comparison to commercial biodiesel reactors, the main use of the facility will be to test new ways to produce , including catalysts and feedstocks. Ultimately, the team will perform economic analyses on commercializing their methods.

As for other industries that utilize Cannabis plants, Parnas makes a clear distinction between industrial hemp, which contains less than 1 percent psychoactive chemicals in its flowers, and some of its cousins, which contain up to 22 percent. “This stuff,” he points out, “won’t get you high.”

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User comments : 33

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Bob_B
5 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2010
But it won't happen the USA will claim the exhaust is getting people high.

Eikka
2 / 5 (2) Oct 06, 2010
Actually, it will get you high. You just need 22 times more plant matter to exctract the same amount of THC, but that's no problem if you have a vast field of the stuff available.

Potheads use all parts of the plant. The parts they can't smoke, or don't want to smoke, they wash in certain chemicals to make an extract that they can then smoke or eat. The process is very simple, although there's a danger of explosion and fire.
Caliban
4.4 / 5 (9) Oct 06, 2010
All kidding aside, though, this plant can be grown, with little to no cultivation, in soils otherwise unsuited for cultivation, including areas subject to erosion -areas bordering streams, rivers and lakes especially- which make it especially attractive in agricultural areas, where it would metabolize traditional agriculture's waste runoff of fertilisers, which would mitigate the harm done by the otherwise largely unchecked contamination of drainage basins.

Widespread planting would kill several birds with one stone -so to speak- and also produce much fiber for textile use and as fuel, in addition to producing the oil for use as feedstock, cosmetics, et c. Not to mention cheap, cheap, cheap.

I say do it!

zslewis91
Oct 06, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
zslewis91
Oct 06, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Quantum_Conundrum
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 06, 2010
I got a better idea:

Let's ban tobacco and then convert the tobacco farms to make more food and biofuels crops.

Let's ban alcohol and convert those respective farms to make more food and biofuels crops.

Here we kill several birds with one stone:

We stop huge portion of world hunger by making much more food, instead of poisons.

We stop most of the cause of lung, mouth, throat, brain, liver, and breast cancers.

We stop huge portion of traffic accidents.

We stop huge portion of domestic violence and abuse of women and children.

Wow, and this is pretty obvious stuff. All it takes is ban alcohol and ban tobacco.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (12) Oct 06, 2010
Yes, QC, take us back to the good ole days of Prohibition. Yes, those were the high times for American society. They make the current "war on drugs" look like child's play. I have only one question for you: which Family do you represent?
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (9) Oct 06, 2010
Although growing hemp is not legal in the U.S....
So the real question here is, whose lives do we have to collectively threaten, to get this idiocy repealed at long last??

I'm only half-joking: the idiocy has gone on far longer than enough, and cost U.S. far more than enough already.
smokabowl420
5 / 5 (6) Oct 06, 2010
Prohibition still doesnt work

lulz
PhysicsLver21
4.6 / 5 (5) Oct 07, 2010
Actually, it will get you high. You just need 22 times more plant matter to exctract the same amount of THC, but that's no problem if you have a vast field of the stuff available.

Potheads use all parts of the plant. The parts they can't smoke, or don't want to smoke, they wash in certain chemicals to make an extract that they can then smoke or eat. The process is very simple, although there's a danger of explosion and fire.


Go take another bong rip maybe that should clear your head of bullshit comments... Hemp contains not 1% of THC but .0326%... so no you cant just smoke 22 times or 30 times that amount.. do you even realize how much hemp that would be? were talking pounds here... but even then hemp does not even contain THC but other metabolites; 4C-Metribuzin or 14C-Metabolites, and from TH-COH to TH-COOH (this is the metabolite from which THC is derived. But regardless you cannot smoke hemp, you can.. but why smoke it if it won't get you high?
PhysicsLver21
5 / 5 (5) Oct 07, 2010
I got a better idea:

Let's ban tobacco and then convert the tobacco farms to make more food and biofuels crops.

Let's ban alcohol and convert those respective farms to make more food and biofuels crops.

Here we kill several birds with one stone:

We stop huge portion of world hunger by making much more food, instead of poisons.

We stop most of the cause of lung, mouth, throat, brain, liver, and breast cancers.

We stop huge portion of traffic accidents.

We stop huge portion of domestic violence and abuse of women and children.

Wow, and this is pretty obvious stuff. All it takes is ban alcohol and ban tobacco.


How high are you exactly? I mean seriously to think that its gonna be that easy to just BAN alcohol and tobacco? Do you know your history at all? or anything?
A_Paradox
5 / 5 (4) Oct 07, 2010
In Australia we have similarly unhelpful laws relating to Cannabis Sativa. In Western Australia there are some farmers in the South West who have licenses to grow the industrial variety but not many do so at present. The thing is, what the so-called Wheat Belt areas need is just such a crop as Cannabis Sativa to absorb winter rainfall which would otherwise sink to the water table. Before the coming of European farming methods which required the clearing of all the native trees to expose arable land, those trees sucked up all the rain water that didn't run down into the creeks and to the sea. Without the trees, the heavily salt laden ground water has come to the surface making umpteen thousand square kilometres of salt pans.

It's a pity now that the reduction in rainfall due to climate change may prevent reclamation of much of this ravaged landscape.
Weightgain4000
5 / 5 (6) Oct 07, 2010
This isnt exactly new new's

Hemp has been well know as a great source of readily available bio-oil for thousands of years

Pity it takes yet another study to once again prove its benefits

Sigh! When will they learn?
Eikka
1 / 5 (5) Oct 07, 2010
But regardless you cannot smoke hemp, you can.. but why smoke it if it won't get you high?


I wasn't saying you smoke the stuff. I was saying that you take the plant matter and wash the cannabinoids out with certain chemicals, and you concentrate them that way.

Pot growers do that. They smoke the buds, some may even smoke the leaves, but all the parts that don't have enough THC to get you high, they stuff inside an empty soda bottle and wash them down with (retracted) to get an oily residue that does get you high.

If one gram of good marijuana gets you high as a kite, and the concentration in industrial hemp is 607 times lower, all you need to do is get 607 grams of hemp and extract the cannabinoids.
Peter_Reynolds
1 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2010
"them dirty pot head smokers will love that...tell everyone gets cancer and all the black men end up raping our white women...all them stoners should just go get really high together out of there bongs...roors and such..i hate hippies. 1.they smell 2. they are dumb 3. they get high all the time and 4. they smell like the scum behind me ears smell. yuck"

@zslewis91. I've reported your vile, disgusting post as abusive. You are a worthless toad.

And there's some mad, crazy people here aren't there? Much madder and crazier than I've ever seen anybody on weed!

@Eikka

You live in a fantasy world. You are entirely deluded.

Cannabis is one of the most benign and valuable crops on the planet
Palli
5 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2010

“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.”

Cannabis seeds are amongst the most nutritious foods you'll find! They're a superior source of protein and include a balanced mix of healthy omega acids. The author carefully avoids mentioning those facts because he want's to make fuel.

Legal like soy been pudding!
Palli
5 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2010

"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."

Cannabis seeds are amongst the most nutritious foods you'll find! They're a superior source of protein and include a balanced mix of healthy omega acids. The author tries to obscure this fact by lying when he says
"It's equally important to make fuel from plants that are not food"

Only because he want's to make fuel...
Palli
not rated yet Oct 07, 2010
sorry, removed double post
Skeptic_Heretic
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 07, 2010

I wasn't saying you smoke the stuff. I was saying that you take the plant matter and wash the cannabinoids out with certain chemicals, and you concentrate them that way.

You're referring to what is called qwiso, or hash wash. Industrial hemp is specifically cultivated to have low to no cannabinoidal content. Recreational marijunan plants are packed with cannabinoids. If you qwiso industrial hemp you'll have zero dry residue to smoke. This is why it is legal to cultivate industrial hemp in some countries. The ability to use industrial as a hallucinogenic is nil.
snwboardn
5 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2010
Is there anything Hemp can't do?
PhysicsLver21
5 / 5 (4) Oct 07, 2010
If one gram of good marijuana gets you high as a kite, and the concentration in industrial hemp is 607 times lower, all you need to do is get 607 grams of hemp and extract the cannabinoids.


You should really read your own post man... Where exactly are you getting these numbers at? Your ass? If one hit of "good" marijuana gets you high? Whats the THC count of "good" mary jane? or the THC percentage? 10,15,20 percent? If so how the hell do you come up with 607 times that amount or 607 grams for that matter? You seem to be missing the point here that Hemp has little to NO cannabinoids. But through your own flawed logic it would take 1.338 pounds of HEMP to get just as high as one hit of "good" marijuana.... congrats man, you just made yourself look like an idiot on physorg, bravo.
ninjagirl
5 / 5 (3) Oct 07, 2010
them dirty pot head smokers will love that...tell everyone gets cancer and all the black men end up raping our white women...all them stoners should just go get really high together out of there bongs...roors and such..i hate hippies. 1.they smell 2. they are dumb 3. they get high all the time and 4. they smell like the scum behind me ears smell. yuck

Honestly I really should not be wasting my time even commenting on your asinine comment. Ignorant people like your self are what is wrong with the world. Please do us all a favor and get an edumacation!
zslewis91
3 / 5 (2) Oct 07, 2010
[q
@zslewis91. I've reported your vile, disgusting post as abusive. You are a worthless toad.

And there's some mad, crazy people here aren't there? Much madder and crazier than I've ever seen anybody on weed!

Cannabis is one of the most benign and valuable crops on the planet

@peter, go load another bong load, you hippie, ha ha ha ha, im just kidding, im truly and honestly so proud of all of you. all that i wrote was no more thatn blatant sarcasm...@ninjagirl & @peterxxxx restored my faith in these fourms...many thanks:)
knikiy
5 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2010
I still don't understand why industrial hemp is illegal in the US if it doesn't contain much in the way of psychoactive substances. Can someone explain this? Guilt by resemblance?
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2010

You live in a fantasy world. You are entirely deluded.


No. I happen to know people who grow pot.
Eikka
1 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2010
If so how the hell do you come up with 607 times that amount or 607 grams for that matter? You seem to be missing the point here that Hemp has little to NO cannabinoids.


I quote an earlier post: "Hemp contains not 1% of THC but .0326%"

And the article that claims that some varieties can contain up to 22% in certain parts of the plant. Extrapolating from that, hemp would contain 674.84 times less cannabinoids. You're right, I must've made a calculating error somewhere along the line.

Point is, hemp DOES have cannabinoids in it, and you CAN extract them by dissolving them and then concentrating the solution until they get stuff that they can smoke and get high on.

I'm not trying to say that you'd smoke a salad bowl full of hemp to get high. I'm saying that you can take a whole field full of hemp and distill it down to whatever THC it has.
JakeWilde
5 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2010
Why would someone wanting to consume marijuana recreationally go through all of the trouble of distilling components of the crop that would still be used in other ways? Technically there isn't a lot of waste from it when you use it for industrial applications. There are a lot of uses from fibre to bio-mass, as well as oils.
We already import hemp at great cost from Canada and the U.K.
I'm no GW kook or anything of the sort, but cotton is bad for the planet and it is our resonsibility to be good stewards. Hemp is a saving grace for fuels combined with solar, hydro, and wind as well as a food source for a lot of cultures.
There are plenty of places to buy marijuana with high THC content for recreational and medical use be it legal or otherwise.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2010
Point is, hemp DOES have cannabinoids in it, and you CAN extract them by dissolving them and then concentrating the solution until they get stuff that they can smoke and get high on.
You don't know what cannabinoids are. Just so you're aware, your body contains them, naturally. You synthesize a lot of cannabinoids which govern your will to eat sleep and thirst. Almost all complex life contains cannabinoids. Are you trying to suggest I can distill someone down to a smokable substance? You're preaching from a position of ignorance, and your anecdotal friend isn't teaching you anything.
knikiy
5 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2010

I'm not trying to say that you'd smoke a salad bowl full of hemp to get high. I'm saying that you can take a whole field full of hemp and distill it down to whatever THC it has.


I think it may be more cost effective to smoke banana peels.
Skeptic_Heretic
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 11, 2010

I'm not trying to say that you'd smoke a salad bowl full of hemp to get high. I'm saying that you can take a whole field full of hemp and distill it down to whatever THC it has.


I think it may be more cost effective to smoke banana peels.

You'd be better off smoking lawn clippings. In that case at least the various chemicals would get you high.
Fresh
3 / 5 (3) Oct 11, 2010
Cannabis Sativa will certainly get you high, they meant to say Cannabis Ruderalis, at least I hope they did, if not then they were the ones that were high.
Fresh
not rated yet Oct 12, 2010
By the way, the first Ford Model T ran on hemp, I don't understand how it took so long for a study to find what has already happened.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Oct 12, 2010
Cannabis Sativa will certainly get you high, they meant to say Cannabis Ruderalis, at least I hope they did, if not then they were the ones that were high.
Sativa, Indica, and Runderalis will all get you high. Cultivators know the last type as "auto-flowering".
Peter_Reynolds
3 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2010
There is so much BS in this thread! It's a laugh a minute!

Cannabis and hemp are the same thing. Sativa, Indica and ruderalis are varieties. Ruderalis has nothing at all to do with autoflowering which is a recently developed characteristic that can, theoretically, be engineered into any hybridised strain.

The THC content and/or content of any other cannabinoid is inherent in the variety but certaibnly can't be determined to any absurd three decimal place figure as suggested. In the UK, industrial hemp has to have a THC content of less than 0.2% by law.

Hemp biodiesel from hempseed oil hasn't really proved viable up to now because hemnpseed oil deteriorates very rapidly. Bioethanol from hemp biomass is much more promising but hasto compete agnist other very fast growing crops such as willow.

Hemp can tolerate poor soil and does improve soil structure and fix nitrogen but the idea that it doesn't need fertiliser is just hippy BS.

Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Oct 13, 2010
Ruderalis has nothing at all to do with autoflowering which is a recently developed characteristic that can, theoretically, be engineered into any hybridised strain.
Incorrect. The Runderalis subspecies is characterized by its tendency to flower multiple times per year as it has differentiated from the other two subspecies by removing the need for the photodegenerative enzyme that prompts the plant to flower. Hence the "auto-flowering" moniker where the plant will flower regardless of the temperature of the light.