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Using Hemp as an Alternative Fuel

Although the majority of eco-friendly car headlines relate to the advances in hybrid and electric battery technology, there are many other alternatives to petrol out there. Alternative biofuels can be created out of cooking oil, algae, and liquefied petroleum to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiency. Another type of plant that can be used to fuel cars is hemp. This humble plant can be used to create paper, clothing, and food, but it's often overlooked as an alternative fuel source. Yet there are signs that hemp is on the rise as a potential alternative fuel. Canada has given the go-ahead to fund research into hemp oil, while university studies have shown that it could be a viable alternative to petrol.

hemp as fuel 

Hemp's Eco-Friendly Qualities

Some of the concerns that have been put forth related to biodiesel or biofuel include the fact that crops such as palm and corn oil can put strain on the environment, somewhat defeating the purpose. Unlike olives, peanuts, or rapeseed, hemp doesn't need to use up high-quality land that could be used for food instead. Hemp can grow without clearing land, and is able to flourish in a variety of climates. It's a hardy plant that leaves the ground in a better condition than when it was planted, which makes it unique among biofuel sources. Hemp can be grown without a great deal of water, fertilizer, or other input, and the plant is used in many parts of Europe and Asia for the fibrous stalks. Yet the oily seeds are often discarded as a waste by-product. These could instead be used for fuel, while still producing fibres used in other products.

Hemp produces up to four times more cellulose per acre as trees, and it grows more quickly than a forest. And in comparison to petroleum, it boasts a number of benefits. It grows like a weed, making shortages unlikely. It's also a renewable resource, unlike oil. Hemp fuel is biodegradable, so if there is a hemp oil spill it would simply help fertilise the soil. 

hemp as fuel

There are a number of benefits to specifically using hemp as an alternative to petroleum, but any alternative biofuel holds some benefits. Using biofuels like hemp can help cut emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and toxic sulphur dioxide. These types of fuel are also far less toxic than petrol, unlikely to irritate the skin or contribute to airborne pollution.

The Future of Hemp Oil

Hemp oil is cost-effective and environmentally-friendly, so why isn't it talked about as a viable alternative fuel more frequently? You'll note alternative fuel popping up on social media for popular listings sites like carsales.com.au more and more, and hemp oil is catching on in the USA and Canada. Right now the main argument against it seems to be that it isn't being produced on a wide enough scale to be economically sound as a source of fuel, but that could easily change in the near future. As oil reserves continue to be used, we'll need to power our cars with renewable forms of energy. Hemp could bounce back and become a strong contender for the new alternative fuel.