Hemp biomass as a source of fuel is the most under-exploited use of hemp, mostly because it is not economically feasible at the present time. The use of any biomass to produce energy is called 'chemurgy' – derived from 'chemicals' and 'energy' – as opposed to petrochemical products. Almost any biomass material can be converted to create methanol or ethanol, and these fuels burn cleanly with less carbon monoxide and higher octane. Hemp is a valuable, viable source of woody biomass. One acre of hemp is approximately 75 percent cellulose, whereas one acre of trees is only 60 percent – hemp can give two crops per year whereas trees give one crop every 20-30 years. Hemp stalk can be converted into 500 gallons of methanol/acre.
Did you know: The diesel engine was invented to burn fuel from agricultural waste, yet ended up burning unrefined petroleum.
Other interesting factors to support biofuel production and use:
Particulate Matter. The exhaust emissions of particulate matter from biodiesel were 30 percent lower than overall particulate matter emissions from diesel. Breathing particulate has been shown to be a human health hazard.
Carbon Monoxide. The exhaust emissions of carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas) from biodiesel are 50 percent lower than carbon monoxide emissions from diesel.
Sulphur. Sulphur emissions are essentially eliminated with pure biodiesel. Ethanol contains no sulphur.
Hydrocarbons. The exhaust emissions of total hydrocarbons (a contributing factor in the localised formation of smog and ozone) are 93 percent lower for biodiesel and diesel.
Biodegradability. Biodiesel degrades about four times faster than petroleum diesel. Within 28 days, pure biodiesel degrades 85-88 percent in water.
Flash Point. The flash point of a fuel is defined as the temperature at which it will ignite when exposed to a spark or flame. Biodiesel's flash point is over 300 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas petroleum based diesel fuel's flash point is around 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
Acute Oral Toxicity. Biodiesel is non-toxic. The acute oral LD50 (lethal dose) is greater than 17.4 gm/kg body weight. Table salt is nearly 10 times more toxic.