A hemp powered car will be touring North America this summer. It’s goal is to prove the viability of hemp as fuel, and promote environmental fuel technologies and drug law reform. The car will attend environmental festivals, such as SolFest, and drug law reform events.
Biofuels have been gaining popularity recently. Joshua and Kaia Tickell toured America using fryer grease to power their van.
This is a great idea for recycling oil. Biodiesel can be used in any unmodified diesel engine. Hemp Car will be using hemp oil converted into biodiesel. This is a monumental task, as hemp is illegal to grow in the U.S. and the oil is extremely expensive. The Hemp Car crew say they chose to use hemp because of it’s potential to replace petrol fuels. It is estimated that if 6% of America’s marginal land was planted over with hemp, it could provide for all of America’s energy needs.
Pyrolysis is the technology which makes this possible. Pyrolysis is a method that heats plant matter in an oxygen-free environment. The plant matter is reduced to individual constituents such as; combustible gases, condensable liquids, oil, and char. All of these constituents can be used as fuel. Lynn Osburn wrote an excellent paper on biomass fuels entitled, Energy Farming in America.
The hemp plant has no psychoactive properties. Cultivating hemp can help replenish spent soil. Hemp can grow almost anywhere, and requires far less pesticides than many other cash crops, such as cotton. Hemp can be used for fuel, fiber, food, medicine, and industry. Hemp seed is highly nutritious. Hemp fiber is durable and strong. Extractums made from hemp were a valued medicine for thousands of years, but prohibition in the 1930s ended all of that.
Why was this valuable renewable resource prohibited? Evidence suggests a special-interest group that included the DuPont petrochemical company, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon (Dupont’s major financial backer), and the newspaper man William Randolph Hearst mounted a yellow journalism campaign against hemp. Hearst deliberately confused psychoactive marijuana with industrial hemp, one of humankind’s oldest and most useful resources.
DuPont and Hearst were heavily invested in timber and petroleum resources, and saw hemp as a threat to their empires. Petroleum companies also knew that petroleum emits noxious, toxic byproducts when incompletely burned, as in an auto engine. In 1937 DuPont, Mellen and Hearst were able to push a “marijuana” prohibition bill through Congress in less than three months, which destroyed the domestic hemp industry.
Fear driven myths about hemp and marijuana have kept these plants from providing society with much needed alternatives to current consumer habits. Hemp Car hopes to help expel these myths and show the true hemp plant to North American society. Canada’s recent withdraw of hemp prohibition is a big step toward global reform. People must keep working to see common sense become reality.
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