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Hemp Fuel—The Way Out of Foreign Oil Dependency?

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Industrial hemp is a viable solution to the worldwide demand for fuel. A never ending renewable source of biomass to help address our growing energy needs. Since the oil crisis in the early seventies much work has been accomplished in the area of energy production using biomass.

Planting only 6 percent of the continental United States with high yield biomass crops like hemp would supply all the current domestic demands for oil and gas. Hemp fuel is a real alternative.

It’s true; 80 percent of the total monetary living expense for everything we do is ultimately wrapped up in energy costs; from the energy it takes to make the food we eat, to fuel for the cars we drive, to the manufacturing, storage and transportation of the products we buy. In addition 80 percent of all solid and airborne pollution in our environment can be blamed on fossil energy sources. It is estimated that America has already exhausted 80 percent of its fossil fuel reserves. Isn’t this a recipe for disaster? Hemp fuel is needed.

?Industrial hemp is the number one biomass producer on earth, meaning it is an actual contender for an economically competitive, clean burning alternative fuel. Hemp has four times the biomass and cellulose potential and eight times the methanol potential of its closest competing crop—corn. Burning coal is the greatest source of acid rain; biomass fuels burn clean and contain no sulphur and produce no ash during combustion. The cycle of growing and burning biomass crops keeps the world’s carbon dioxide level at the perfect equilibrium, which means that we are less likely to experience the global climactic changes that are predicted. Hemp Alternative Energy International is the source for hemp fuel.

Investing in the Future of Energy

Hemp Alternative Energy International is a privately-held hemp oil and gas production company with headquarters in Beverly Hills, California. The Company was founded in 2011. We are dedicated to providing quality hemp based fuel products to the world markets including hemp lubricants, Bio-Diesel and hemp based Ethanol blended gasolines.

Hemp crops grown specifically for HAEI fuels in Canada and Guatemala provide the feedstock to produce the high grade oils refined through a series of natural processes to produce a sustainable volume of hemp based Ethanol blended fuels. In early 2012 HAEI will introduce a complete line of ARB Low Carbon Fuel Standard compliant automotive fuel products under the brand name HEMPOLINE® in three grades 87, 89, 91 octane.

A #2 Bio-Diesel fuel will also be sold through select retail locations beginning with the HEMPCO corporate branded outlet store in west Los Angeles in 2013, followed with a network of green energy hemp fuel dispensing facilities across the US, Canada, and worldwide.

Hemp Cellulose for Ethanol

The process of making Ethanol involves the conversion of cellulose into alcohol. This can be done in several ways including gasification, acid hydrolysis and a technology utilizing engineered enzymes to convert cellulose to glucose, which is then fermented to make alcohol. Still another approach using enzymes will convert cellulose directly to alcohol, which leads to substantial process cost savings.

Current costs associated with these conversion processes are about $1.37[vi] per gallon of fuel produced, plus the cost of the feedstock. Of this $1.37, enzyme costs are about $0.50 per gallon; current research efforts are directed toward reduction of this amount to $0.05 per gallon. There is a Federal tax credit of $0.54 per gallon and a number of other various incentives available. Conversion rates range from a low of 25-30 gallons per ton of biomass to 100 gallons per ton using the latest technology.

In 1998 Ethanol replaced MTBE as an oxygenate creating a demand in excess of 700 million gallons per year in California. MTBE was phased out of use in 2003 according to state law.

There are many sources of feedstock under consideration and hemp holds important potential for Ethanol production in California. Because hemp is such a good candidate as a dedicated energy crop it may represent the fastest track to meeting 34% of California’s upcoming Ethanol market demand of at least 580-750 million gallons per year.

Hemp Seed Oil for Bio-Diesel

Production of Oil

Grown for oilseed, Canadian grower’s yields average 1 tonne/hectare, or about 400 lbs. per acre. Cannabis seed contains about 28% oil (112 lbs.), or about 15 gallons per acre. Production costs using these figures would be about $35 per gallon. Some varieties are reported[iv] to yield as much as 38% oil, and a record 2,000 lbs. per acre was recorded in 1999. At this rate, 760 lbs.of oil per acre would result in about 100 gallons of oil, with production costs totaling about $5.20 gallon. This oil could be used as-is in modified diesel engines, or be converted to Bio-Diesel using a relatively simple, automated process. Several systems are under development worldwide designed to produce Bio-Diesel on a small scale, such as on farms using “homegrown” oil crops.

Production of Bio-Diesel

Basically methyl esters, or Bio-Diesel, as it is commonly called, can be made from any oil or fat, including hemp seed oil. The reaction requires only hemp seed oil, an alcohol (usually methanol) and a catalyst (usually sodium hydroxide [NaOH]). The reaction produces Bio-Diesel and a small amount of glycerol or glycerin.??The costs of materials needed for the reaction are the costs associated with production of hemp seed oil, the cost of methanol and the NaOH. In the instances where waste vegetable oil, or WVO, is used, the cost for oil is of course, free. Typically methanol costs about $2 per gallon and NaOH costs about $5 per 500g or about $0.01 per gram. For a typical 17 gallon batch of Bio-Diesel start with 14 gallons of hemp seed oil; add to that 15% by volume of alcohol (or 2.1 gallons) and about 500g of NaOH. The process takes about 2 hours to complete and requires about 2000 watts of energy. That works out to about 2kw/hr or about $0.10 of energy (assuming $0.05 per kw/hr). So the total cost per gallon of Bio-Diesel is $? (oil) + 2.1 x $2 (methanol) + $5 (NaOH) + $0.10 (energy) / 14 gallons = $0.66 per gallon, plus the cost of the oil.[v] Other costs may include sales, transportation, maintenance, depreciation, insurance and labor.

 

Industrial Hemp Solutions

Hemp can be grown in most climates and on marginal soils. It requires little or no herbicide and no pesticide, and uses less water than cotton. Measurements at Ridgetown College in Ontario, Canada indicate the crop needs 300-400 mm (10-13 in.) of rainfall equivalent. Yields will vary according to local conditions and will range from 1.5 to 6 dry tons of biomass per acre[iii]. California’s rich croplands and growing environment are expected to increase yields by 20% over Canadian results, which will average at least 3.9 bone dry tons per acre.

There are 28 million acres of agricultural land in California, of which 10 million acres are established cropland. If 10% of this cropland (1 million acres) were dedicated to production of hemp as an energy and fiber crop, we could produce 150-500 million gallons of Ethanol per year.

Greater estimates would result from expanding the analysis to include use of agricultural lands not currently applied to crop production as well as additional land not currently devoted to agriculture. A California Department of Food and Agriculture estimate suggests that each 1 million acres of crop production, occupying roughly 1% of the state’s total land area, would supply the ethanol equivalent of about 3% of California’s current gasoline demand.

Hemp Energy Solution #1

Conversion of Cellulose to Alcohol:

Hydrolysis (Enzymatic & Acid)

Conversion of cellulose to fermentable glucose holds the greatest promise from both a production and feedstock supply standpoint. DOE (NREL) and a number of Universities and private enterprise have been developing this technology and achieved a number of milestones. Production estimates of 80 to 130 gallons per ton of biomass make this technology very attractive.

Anaerobic Digester (Methane)

Anaerobic digestion is used to capture methane from any waste material. It is confirmed technology under commercialization utilizing landfill gases, wastewater treatment system gases, agricultural wastes from several other sources, particularly hog and cattle manure. It is well suited for distributed power generation when co-located with electrical generation equipment. For example, Corporation for Future Resources,[ii] and Minusa Coffee Company, Ltd., located near Itaipé, Minas Gerais, Brazil, have teamed to construct an anaerobic fermentation digestion facility at Minusa’s coffee operation. The 600 cubic meter digester is designed to continuously produce methane rich gas, to be used for coffee drying and electric power production, as well as nitrogen-rich anaerobic organic fertilizer.

This technology may be attractive in some cases when co-located with a hemp fiber processing facility or in remote locations to provide local power generation on a small scale and in remote rural applications.

 

Hemp Energy Solution #2

Gasification (Pyrolysis):

Gasification uses high heat to convert biomass into “SynGas” (synthetic gas) and low grade fuel oil which has an energy content of about 40% that of petroleum diesel. By products are mostly “Char” and ash. This technology is readily available commercially in several forms and could be a viable option according to local environmental and economic conditions. Beginning in 1999, Community Power Corporation[i]joined with the US National Renewable Laboratory (NREL) and Shell Renewables, Ltd. to design and develop a new generation of small modular bio-power systems. The first prototype SMB system rated at 15 kWe was deployed in the village of Alaminos in the Philippines in early 2001. The fully automated system can use a variety of biomass fuels to generate electricity, shaft power and heat.

 

Hemp Energy Solution #3

Burning:

Co-fired with coal to reduce emissions and offset a fraction of coal use

Burned to produce electricity

Pelletized to heat structures

Made or cut into logs for heating

Biomass to be burned is typically valued at $30-50 per ton, which makes whole stalk hemp as biomass to be burned impractical due to the high value of its base fiber. One exception may be found in consideration of the latest gasification technologies used on local small scale and in remote rural applications.

Hemp Energy Solution #4

Oils:

Vegetable, seed and plant oil used “as-is” in diesel engines

Bio-Diesel – vegetable oil converted by chemical reaction

Converted into high-quality non-toxic lubricants

There are a number of plants high in oils, and many processes that produce vegetable oil as a waste product. These include soy, corn, coconut, palm, canola, rapeseed, and a number of other promising species. Any of these oils can be converted to Bio-Diesel as described later, with a feedstock cost of $0 + per gallon.

Barriers

A barrier to the development of a cellulose-to-ethanol industry is availability, consistency and make-up, and location of feedstock. Dedicated crops, such as switchgrass[ix], resolve these problems. Cannabis hemp will enhance business opportunities because we can “tailor” the cannabis plant fractions to satisfy multiple end uses such as high value composites, fine paper, nitrogen rich fertilizer, CO2, medicines, plastics, fabrics and polymers—just a portion of the many possible end uses.

Benefits

Benefits of a dedicated energy crop include consistency of feedstock supply, enhanced co-product opportunities, and increased carbon sequestration. It is commonly held that agricultural industries must focus on multiple value-added products from the various fractions of plants. This value-adding enhances rural development by providing jobs and facilities for value-adding operations. Hemp[x] lends itself to this in a unique way due to the high value of its base fiber. Market prices for well-cleaned, composite-grade natural fiber are about 55¢ per pound ($1,100 ton); lower value uses, such as in some paper-making, bring $400-$700 per ton, while other value-adding options, such as pulping for fine papers[xi], could increase the value of the fiber to $2,500 per ton.

 

Economic Impact

Employment

Employment for hemp production, calculated at one worker per 40 acres farmed[xvi], results in a total of 1,700 to 4,275 new jobs, if 10% of California’s cropland is put into production of cannabis hemp. These jobs are created across all traditional agricultural employment sectors, upon full development of the system. The processing plants will also create new jobs in these areas[xvii]:

·      Administrative & Sales – 15 to 25 per facility

·      Research & Development – 25 to 50 statewide

·      Engineering & Technical – 75 to 100 statewide

·      Construction & Maintenance – 150 to 300 statewide

·      Transportation & Material Handling – 10 to 20 per facility

·      General Labor – 25 to 50 per facility

Construction

Each facility will incur $100-300 million in construction costs. Much of the equipment and labor will be procured locally, creating new jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs to provide equipment and services to this new industry.

Related Agricultural Activities

At an average cost of $520 per acre, returns to farmers will range from $50-$500 profit per acre. Used in rotation with other crops, hemp can help reduce herbicide use resulting in savings to the farmer on production of crops other than hemp.

 

Environmental Impact

There are a great number of environmental impacts to be considered, including;

Water use. Agricultural operations & processing will consume hundreds of millions of gallons.

Large mono-crop systems have been problematic. Though hemp lends itself well to mono-cropping, effective & feasible rotation schemes must be devised.

Genetically Modified Organisms are key to efficient conversions but may pose a great threat to life. This is an issue that must be handled with complete transparency & integrity.

Waste streams generated are expected to be low, but a detailed accounting must be made and addressed.

Creation of “Carbon Sink” to absorb carbon

Improved land and water management

In-state fuel production – reducing transport costs and associated effects

Reduction in emissions (Continued use of RFG)

$35 per acre total environmental benefit

Endnotes & References

[i] Community Power Corporation, 8420 S. Continental Divide Road, Littleton, CO 80127

[ii] Corporation For Future Resources, !909 Chowkeebin Court, Tallahassee, Florida 32301

[iii] Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs FactSheet “Growing Industrial Hemp in Ontario” 08/00

[iv] A Brief Analysis of the Characteristics of Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Seed Grown in Northern Ontario in 1998. May 19, 1999 Herb A. Hinz, Undergraduate Thesis, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario

[v] IAN S. WATSON, AIA Bio-Diesel Expert?Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

[vi] CIFAR Conference XIV, “Cracking the Nut: Bioprocessing Lignocellulose to Renewable Products and Energy”, June 4, 2001

[vii] California Energy Commission report “Costa and Benefits of a Biomass-To-Ethanol Production Industry in California”, March, 2001

[viii] California Energy Commission report “Evaluation of Biomass-To-Ethanol Fuel Potential in California”, December, 1999 pg iv 4-5

[ix] Switchgrass is the leading candidate under consideration by DOE. Numerous studies are available upon request.

[x] Cannabis saliva, commonly know as “hemp” is included in a list of potential field crops considered as Candidate Energy Crops in the December 1999 California Energy Commission report “Evaluation of Biomass-To-Ethanol Fuel Potential in California” pg. iv-3

[xi] Hemp Pulp and Paper Production Gertjan van Roekel jr.

ATO-DLO Agrotechnology, P.O.box 17, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands

Van Roekel, G J, 1994. Hemp pulp and paper production. Journal of the International Hemp Association 1: 12-14.

[xiv] Based on 20% improvement over Canadian production per Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs FactSheet “Growing Industrial Hemp in Ontario”, 08/00

[xv] DOE calculation – See Chariton Valley project reports.

[xvi] California Agricultural Employment Report

[xvii] Estimate only. Actual numbers need to be discovered and confirmed

 

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