Hemp has become a household name in 2020. With many states now allowing for the cultivation and recreational use of cannabis, the industry has found its way into every aspect of daily life. From clothes to ropes and plastics, recycles hemp has proven itself to be a frontrunner in any industry. So why not cars?
Now, many might think that there is no historical correlation between the byproduct of CBD and the development of the automobile, but you couldn’t be farther from the truth. The combination of the two dates back to the early 1900s. With both Ford and Rudolf Diesel constantly searching for alternative fuel sources, their discoveries have led to the development of further research into the benefits of utilizing canna-byproduct.
The Ford automotive company released one of their prototype hemp model cars in the 1940s. The body, as well as the fuel source, was 100% from hemp biomass. At the time, it appeared to be a competitive industry.
It is also of note that almost 40-years prior to Ford’s invention, Rudolf Diesel (the inventor of the diesel engine) had begun extensive research into the use of biofuel alternatives. It was by his invention that the world can ostensibly run on alternative fuels and it was his sturdy engine design that provided a catalyst for many to convert their vehicles on alternative energy sources.
All things were looking good, that is, of course, until Henry J. Anslinger came into the picture. Anslinger was the head commissioner of the Federal Narcotics Bureau and had come to the conclusion that cannabis and any of its byproducts were a threat to the country. This, overnight, put a stop to the production of alternative methods derived from hemp for the next 80 years.
Across the US there is a growing movement of those who seek alternative fuels. This can range anywhere from the emerging electric consumer market to the ever-present biofuel industry. Since the decriminalization and full legalization in some states, many farmers are tampering with the idea of utilizing hemp byproducts to fuel vehicles.
In order to utilize the combustion properties of Hem, one must first purchase an astronomical amount of seeds. Then by using a large heat-press, press the oils out of each seed until there is enough to properly fill a fuel tank. Once you separate the oil from the seed, then filtration processes need to begin. These filtration processes can be more extensive than filtering conventional biofuels. Where you might find a french fry or onion ring in your bach of cooking oil, seeds have much smaller particulates that can interfere with the engine’s performance. Once that is filtered out, you have clean, effective biofuel derived from hemp seeds.
Like most alternative fuels, the use of hemp seeds stands pretty consistently. There is an 8-10% loss in engine efficiency which would cause your car to burn that much more in fuel. This can be difficult to get into based on the amount of money and time you just spent to extract one tank worth of fuel, but you get the idea. The main reason why this fuel source hasn’t quite taken off comes down to a couple of factors.
The first is that hemp is expensive. To be able to derive that many seeds to fuel your car are again a lot. Vegetable oil and peanut oil, you can simply find a tank in the back of any restaurant and take it. This makes up for the 10% deficiency in performance when your fuel is free. The second is that hemp is still in a limited market space. The production of all cannabis/hemp related products is developed out of a key number of states in the US. Until the product reaches a nationwide legalization effort, the cost for this limited resource is going to be high.