The incredible industrial applications of Cannabis sativa, better known as the hemp or marijuana plants based on the percentage of THC it has, make the plant one of the most valuable plants on earth. For centuries, early civilization’s uses of hemp have provided everything from food to clothes to construction materials. And in recent years, following the removal of legislation regulating and banning the use of the cannabis plant, research has once again focused on the amazing potential of the cannabis plant for industrial purposes.
The Near Limitless Uses of Hemp
This article looks at 6 amazing industrial applications of the cannabis plant.
With environmental concerns and supply limits plaguing current energy systems, the movement toward sustainable energy is inevitable. Hemp takes only 3-6 months to develop from seed to harvest, does not require chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, can grow in just about any climate, and has minimal water and fertilizer requirements. In short, hemp offers many incredible advantages as a fuel source.
Hemp can be used as fuel in two ways. First, hemp seeds can be pressed and transformed into biodiesel. Second, the entire cannabis plant can be turned into ethanol and methanol through fermentation. Biodiesel, ethanol, and methanol can all be used as transportation fuels.
Biodiesel has outperformed conventional diesel in many studies in all respects, except for oxidation stability, which can be corrected by the use of anti-oxidants. Biodiesel is much cleaner, is biodegradable, and non-toxic compared to fossil fuels. Lastly, estimates have pegged hemp production at 800 liters of biodiesel per hectare annually, higher than such cops as soybean, peanut, sunflower, and rapeseed.
Uses of hemp also include being an amazing source of construction materials. It can be used to make blocks, fiberboard, concrete (also known as hempcrete), and even carpet. Companies in the Netherlands and Ireland are using hemp for making insulation. And hemp building materials provide the amazing benefits of being rot and mold free, pest resistant, and far less damaging to the environment.
Also, hemp oil can form wood finishes and deck stains that has been found to outperform high-end commercial products. They are easy to use, beautiful, durable, and contain low levels of toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which make it an excellent alternative to synthetic and petroleum-based coatings.
Substitute for Plastics
Hemp can also be used as a feedstock for the production of plastics. Hemp can be used to make cellophane, rayon, celluloid, as well as a wide range of plastics. Already hemp is being used in plastics for the construction of cars, boats, and even musical instruments. The advantages of hemp used in plastics include its low environmental impacts, durability, and strength.
For at least 2,000 years, hemp has been used as a source of paper. Until the late 1800s, most paper in books, maps, banknotes, and even bibles were made from hemp. This is no longer the case, but recent research has once again focused on the incredible potential of hemp for paper in today’s world.
Due to the fast-growing property of Cannabis sativa, the use of hemp for paper today could result in massive reductions in deforestation. And not only does hemp replenish itself in a matter of months as compared with 30 years for trees in paper production, but the hemp plant itself is also more efficient as well.
The ingredient used in making paper is cellulose. And hemp contains 85% cellulose, which is far higher than the 30% of cellulose found in trees. The resulting processes of turning trees into paper requires much more energy and produces far greater pollution than the production of paper using hemp.
Hemp clothing has become increasingly common in recent years. While hemp has been used for textiles for thousands of years, hemp has recently expanded into surprising areas of fashion. Traditionally, hemp fabric was popular in shoes, jeans, and rugged outdoor wear. Recently, hemp has been used undergarments and even lingerie.
Hemp fibers are perfect for fabrics, as they do not wear out, they are non-allergenic to skin, and hemp plants do not require herbicides and pesticides. And an added benefit, an acre of hemp produces much more fiber compared with an acre of cotton.
Food and Beverages
It may seem strange that the cannabis plant could be used as a source of food, but it was a dietary staple for many earlier civilizations. It was often eaten as a porridge or baked into cakes and breads. The cannabis plant is a valuable source of protein, and is found today in a host of products such as protein powders.
Hemp seeds are an important source of nutrition. The seed is about 25% protein, is rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and is a good source of iron and calcium. Hemp products are also commonly seen as CBD products where people buy CBD oil to provide relief for many different ailments.
Hemp can also be used in iced tea, used to make beer and wine, and even made into hemp milk. In addition to benefits for human consumption, hemp seeds are also a popular source of bird food.
With the current transition toward sustainable development, the cannabis plant offers incredible possibilities in helping shape our modern world. It is a fast-growing plant that does not require the use of herbicides and pesticides, can grow in a wide range of climates, and has minimal water and fertilizer requirements. This article discusses important industrial uses of hemp and the cannabis plant, including its use as a fuel, in construction, as a substitute for plastics, for paper, for textiles and in food and beverages.