No matter how much people attempt to deny the presence of global warming, it is clear that it is not simply just a facade. Since the industrial revolution, humans have continued to destroy the natural balance of the Earth with our practices and developments. While society has evolved exponentially due to our advances, one thing is certain: the environment has paid a heavier price than any other aspect of our daily lives. We have continued to place convenience at the core of our values, and have viewed it as king as we continued to strive toward the future. It is too late to completely overturn the effects of climate change, however, it is not too late to find ways that we can reduce our carbon footprint on the Earth.
In order to reduce our carbon footprint, as a society we need to be more receptive of alternative solutions, even if they challenge the status quo. In this current age, oil wars, oil spills (such as the one in the gulf by BP in 2010), and the fast approaching state of peak oil, make it clear that we will not be able to rely on oil as a fuel source forever. Quite frankly, we shouldn’t want to. We shouldn’t want to continue global wars due to a commodity that is replaceable, nor should we want to damage the environment of our home because fossil fuels have proven to work effectively. According to Dave Burkey from the National Hemp Association, there are two sustainable alternatives that should be considered:
Hemp Ethanol and Hemp Biodiesel.
Ethanol in general is made from grains, sugars, starches, waste paper, and forest products among other ingredients. Methanol is made primarily from wood or pulp matter. Burkey states that
“Using processes such as gasification, acid hydrolysis and enzymes, hemp can be used to make both ethanol and methanol. Bio-diesel is made from oils and fatty acids in plants and animals.” – Dave Burkey, National Hemp Association, 2016
As for Hemp Biodiesel, it is made through the pressing of hemp seeds to extract their oil. There is a complicated process of doing so, however, it is relatively inexpensive in comparison of the cost of extracting fossil fuels from the ground. The concept of using vegetable oil as an engine fuel dates more than 100 years ago, to 1895. Burkey states that,
“Dr. Rudolf Diesel developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. Diesel demonstrated his engine at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 using peanut oil as fuel. Even Henry Ford built his first cars to run on Bio-diesel. ” – Dave Burkey, National Hemp Association, 2016
Not only can Hemp Biodiesel be made from RENEWABLE oilseed crops, like Hemp obviously, but it has also not been completely developed. With more investment into research on the study, I believe that we will find hemp to be a valuable alternative to classic fossil fuels. Dave Burkey lists a few reason that Hemp Biosdiesel can be a viable alternative for the future.
- Biodiesel is the one alternative fuel that can run any convenional, unmodified diesel engine.
- Hemp Biodiesel can be stored in any location that petroleum diesel fuel is already stored.
- Since it is as biodegradable as sugar, Biodiesel is safe to handle and transport. Just for some comparison, Biodiesel is 10 times less toxic than table salt, and has a combustion temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit, about 175 degrees higher than petroleum diesel fuel at 125 degrees.
- Biodiesel has been proven when tested, registering over 30 million successful United States road miles, and more than 20 years of use in Europe.
- When burned in a diesel engine, biodiesel gets rid of the exhaust odor of petroleum diesel with the much more pleasant smell of hemp.
- By nature, biodiesel is made up of 11% oxygen by weight and contains no elements of sulfur.
- The Congressional Budget Office, Department of Defense, US Department of Agriculture, and others have determined that biodiesel is the low cost alternative fuel option for fleets to meet requirements of the Energy Policy Act.
These are just a few of the benefits of using Hemp as a source of alternative fuel. One fact to remember is that fossil fuels, though vast in number, are not renewable once we run out. On the other hand, Hemp plants can be grown in a wide range of climates and in a faster manner.