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"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

Abraham Lincoln - Former U.S. President

Industrial Hemp

Paper from Hemp

004 Hmp

Until the close of the 19th century, all the world's paper was made by recycling worn-out cloth such as sails, sheets, clothes and rags. These were mainly made from hemp (but also flax) so that hemp activist Jack Herer (in his bestselling book "The Emporer has No Clothes") claims that 75-90 % of paper was made from hemp. With the Industrial Revolution the demand for paper exceeded the availiable rag supply, and inventors began to develop new processes to make paper from natural resources. Unfortunately the largest profits were made by exploiting the worlds forests. A hundred years later we have cleared almost all the primary forest in Europe and North America. Now we must use a sustainable resource for our paper, either managed forests or an annual plant.

Hemp produces paper of a far higher quality than trees. Throughout the 20th century speciality papers were made from hemp. These include most cigarette papers, scientific filter papers, coffee filter papers, tea bags, art papers etc. Currently only 0.05% of the world's paper is made from hemp.

According to Herer, 3-4 times more paper can be produced from hemp than from trees. Pulp made from trees must be bleached, using environmentally destructive processes, such as chlorine-bleaching. Hemp pulp can be bleached with relatively harmless hydrogen peroxide.

Paper can be made from hemp hurds, thus if hemp is grown for fibre or seeds, famers will have an extra product they can sell. However if paper is to made from hemp, it will require massive investments in new technology to process the hemp. Paper-making industries will need to be relocated close to hemp growing areas to minimise transport costs.

The feasibility of paper-production from hemp was recently assessed in a comprehensive three-year Dutch research program involving scientists from 12 institutes and costing Dfl 17 million (£7 million). The Dutch are searching for new crops which can be grown in rotation with their standard crops. They believe that rotating crops will control potato parasites, without needing dangerous pesticides! The researchers found that hemp would be economically viable and developed a detailed business plan.

They recommended that 1000 arable farmers from the north-east of the Netherlands should set up a co-operative, which would own shares in a new pulp factory. Additional funding would be needed from government subsidies and loans. The initial cost would be Dfl 57 million (£22 million) and after 5 years production capacity would be increased making a total investment of Dfl 127 million (£51 million).

However when the plan was put to a committee of farmers, government officials and paper-makers, they decided that some of the assumptions of the business plan were uncertain and that further research, and a pilot plant were needed. This would take a further 2 years and cost Dfl 8-10 million (£4 million).

Report on hemp shows commercial uses limited

21 March 1997


A feasibility study of the hemp industry and its products has found that the the most likely immediate use of hemp fibre in Australia is for high-priced speciality clothing.

 

The report, Some Opportunities for Hemp Products in Australia, was commissioned by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation to answer the key questions raised at a national hemp workshop in late 1995.

Report author Stuart de Jong of Planning and Managing Projects Pty Ltd, evaluated the potential for using hemp for building products, geotextiles and other industrial uses, insulation products and textiles.

Mr de Jong says the key factor holding back the development of the hemp industry in Australia is the high cost of producing and processing the fibre.

As pulping material for building products the hemp bark fraction competes with wood chips which at $115/tonne are almost a third of the price of hemp.

Likewise preparing hemp fibre for textile processing costs $3500/dry tonne. This is significantly more expensive that cotton which is available baled for $2500/tonne. There are also other limiting factors such as high delivery costs, uncertainty of supply, the nature of the fibre and problems with providing specifications, he said.

While Stuart de Jong sees a market for hemp at the high priced end of the clothing industry he warns that prices currently demanded for these products may not be sustainable, and the market in Australia is extremely small - only about 300 tonnes.

Stuart de Jong says that for hemp to be viable as a pulping material its productivity per hectare would need to be improved by a factor of two or three. If that could be achieved then the mechanical issues of separating and pulping hemp fibres to suitable lengths would need to be addressed.

In terms of use as a textile fibre he says an investigation into overseas developments in retting and fibre preparation of hemp should be conducted. In addition steam explosion of hemp could be investigated and costed with a view to exporting partly processed hemp fibre.

[ Source : http://www.rirdc.gov.au/pub/media_releases/21mar97.html

Oz Scientist promotes Hemp body for bio-degradable car.

 

21 May 2001

 
Hemp, coconuts and banana trees could hold the key to the biodegradable car of the future, according to Associate Professor Alan Crosky of the School of Material Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales.

 

"Disposal of old cars is a growing problem, especially in Europe. It is only a matter of time before the expense of the disposal becomes the owner's responsibility and the consumer is forced to pay the full life-cycle costs of their car," Professor Crosky said. "Because this will increase the cost of cars, developing an environmentally-friendly material that can be used to make the bodies of cars is a now a viable option."

 

Professor Crosky is working to create a plant fibre based material from which cars can be made. "Because it would be plant-based the product would be renewable and biodegradable, as well as carbon dioxide neutral," he said. "It would also be light, which would be a huge advantage in environmentally-friendly battery powered cars."

 

So far Professor Crosky's research indicates that hemp is the best fibre to use. The next step is for the researchers to compare the strength of hemp grown in a controlled environment to that grown commercially for clothing.

 

"Obviously impact strength is vital when you are creating a product that will be used for the bodies of cars. We need to make sure the people in the car are as safe as possible," he said.


"In theory, a plant-based material should absorb more of the force of impact than metal but we want to check the hemp to see if any weaknesses develop as it grows. However, finding a safe place to grow the hemp has been an unforeseen problem."


Professor Crosky's research will also have repercussions for the low cost building materials market, which is particularly important in the developing world. "The developing world is already using some plant-based materials for construction so they are definitely a possible market for the products of our research," he said.
 
Henry Ford thought of this years ago. See the Henry Ford Hemp car .