HEMP FOR FUEL Compiled by the Business Alliance for Commerce
in Hemp (BACH). Provided by Access Unlimited, PO Box 1900,
Frazier Park, CA 93225
Biomass conversion to fuel has proven economically
feasible, first in laboratory tests and by continuous
operation of pilot plants in field tests since 1973. When the
energy crop is growing it takes in CO2 from the air, so when
it is burned the CO2 is released, creating a balanced system.
Biomass is the term used to describe all biologically
produced matter. World production of biomass is estimated at
146 billion metric tons a year, mostly wild plant growth. Some
farm crops and trees can produce up to 20 metric tons per acre
of biomass a year. Types of algae and grasses may produce 50
metric tons per year.
This biomass has a heating value of 5000-8000 BTU/lb,
with virtually no ash or sulfur produced during combustion.
About 6% of contiguous United States land area put into
cultivation for biomass could supply all current demands for
oil and gas.
The foundation upon which this will be achieved is the
emerging concept of "energy farming," wherein farmers grow and
harvest crops for biomass conversion to fuels.
Pyrolysis is 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 (pyrolitic 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.
Pyrolysis has been used since the dawn of civilization.
Ancient Egyptians practiced wood distillation by collecting
the tars and pyroligneous acid for use in their embalming
Methanol-powered automobiles and reduced emissions from
coal-fired power plants can be accomplished by biomass
conversion to fuel utilizing pyrolysis technology and at the
same time save the American family farm while turning the
American heartland into a prosperous source of clean energy
Pyrolysis has the advantage of using the same technology
now used to process crude fossil fuel oil and coal. Coal and
oil conversion is more efficient in terms of fuel-to-feed
ratio, but biomass conversion by pyrolysis has many
environmental and economic advantages over coal and oil.
Pyrolysis facilities will run three shifts a day. Some
68% of the energy of the raw biomass will be contained in the
charcoal and fuel oils made at the facility. This charcoal has
nearly the same heating value in BTU as coal, with virtually
Pyrolytic fuel oil has similar properties to no. 2 and
no. 6 fuel oil. The charcoal can be transported economically
by rail to all urban area power plants generating electricity.
The fuel oil can be transported economically by trucking
creating more jobs for Americans. When these plants use
charcoal instead of coal, the problems of acid rain will begin
When this energy system is on line producing a steady
supply of fuel for electrical power plants, it will be more
feasible to build the complex gasifying systems to produce
methanol from the cubed biomass, or make synthetic gasoline
from the methanol by the addition of the Mobil Co. process
equipment to the gasifier.
Farmers must be allowed to grow an energy crop capable of
producing 10 tons per acre in 90-120 days. This crop must be
woody in nature and high in lignocellulose. It must be able to
grow in all climactic zones in America.
And it should not compete with food crops for the most
productive land, but be grown in rotation with food crops or
on marginal land where food crop production isn't profitable.
When farmers can make a profit growing energy, it will
not take long to get 6% of continental American land mass into
cultivation of biomass fuel -enough to replace our economy's
dependence on fossil fuels. We will no longer be increasing
the CO2 burden in the atmosphere. The threat of global
greenhouse warming and adverse climactic change will diminish.
To keep costs down, pyrolysis reactors need to be located
within a 50 mile radius of the energy farms. This necessity
will bring life back to our small towns by providing jobs
Hemp is the number one biomass producer on planet earth:
10 tons per acre in approximately four months. It is a woody
plant containing 77% cellulose. Wood produces 60% cellulose.
This energy crop can be harvested with equipment readily
available. It can be "cubed" by modifying hay cubing
equipment. This method condenses the bulk, reducing trucking
costs from the field to the pyrolysis reactor. And the biomass
cubes are ready for conversion with no further treatment.
Hemp is drought resistant, making it an ideal crop in the
dry western regions of the country. Hemp is the only biomass
resource capable of making America energy independent. And our
government outlawed it in 1938.
Remember, in 10 years, by the year 2000, America will
have exhausted 80% of her petroleum reserves. Will we then go
to war with the Arabs for the privilege of driving our cars;
will we stripmine our land for coal, and poison our air so we
can drive our autos an extra 100 years; will we raze our
forests for our energy needs?
During World War II, our supply of hemp was cut off by
the Japanese. The federal government responded to the
emergency by suspending marijuana prohibition. Patriotic
American farmers were encouraged to apply for a license to
cultivate hemp and responded enthusiastically. Hundreds of
thousands of acres of hemp were grown.
The argument against hemp production does not hold up to
scrutiny: hemp grown for biomass makes very poor grade
marijuana. The 20 to 40 million Americans who smoke marijuana
would loath to smoke hemp grown for biomass, so a farmer's
hemp biomass crop is worthless as marijuana.
It is time the government once again respond to our
economic emergency as they did in WWII to permit our farmers
to grow American hemp so this mighty nation can once again
become energy independent and smog free.
For more information on the many uses of hemp, contact
the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp, Box 71093, LA, CA