Is industrial hemp the energy of the future?

A press release from PR Newswire on May 1, 2014 was generated to inform the public of a research study that concluded that Syngar’s PLUSWave technology increased ethanol production by an overall average of 26%. The PLUSWave technology optimized the conversion of cellulose to sugars and enhanced ethanol yield. The proposed pilot project will utilize Cellunol Inc.’s proprietary technology to reduce costs and speed the pre-treatment of cellulose materials to form a slurry suitable for fermentation into ethanol. This could make industrial hemp the premier bio-fuel.

We are all aware of the high demand for oil worldwide. As a result, we are concerned over the environmental impact of the use of fossil fuels and the challenges of generating a sustainable crop to provide the cellulose needed for bio-fuel fermentation. At the forefront to be a part of this solution is hemp.

Currently, the Unites States government’s favorite bio-fuel is corn-based ethanol. Hemp is a vast improvement over corn-based ethanol on several counts: higher soil conservation, nearly non-existent herbicide & pesticide requirements, higher yields, and greater suitability for cellulosic ethanol production as opposed to either grains or corn.

If we compare hemp to all plants of active interest for bio-fuel production, results have shown that hemp produces 100% more cellulose than any other species under current investigation. Production costs for corn-based ethanol is nearly twice that of estimated production costs for hemp derived ethanol. Hemp and its related species provide denser cellulose content, higher sugar content, and derive higher ethanol yields per metric ton than corn — and does so at lower costs.

In conclusion, not only has hemp been found to be an above average crop for bio-fuel production and exhibits far superior ethanol yields per unit biomass compared to corn, but this pilot project intends to establish a new industry standard for the pre-treatment process of hemp in bio-fuel production.