AOH :: HEMP3.TXT|
Hemp (and biomass in general) for fuel
Hemp For Fuel
Excerpted from Energy Farming in America, by Lynn Osburn
Biomass conversion to fuel has proven economically feasible, first in
laboratory tests and by continuous operation of pilot plants in field test since
1973. When the energy crop is growing it takes in Carbon Dioxide from the air,
so when it is burned the Carbon Dioxide is released, creating a balanced system.
Biomass is the term used to describe all biolgically produced matter. World
production of biomass is estimated at 146 billion metric tons a year, mostly
wild plant growth. Some farm crops and trees can produce up to 20 metric tons
per acres of biomass a year. Types of algae and grasses may produce 50 metric
tons per year.
This biomass has a heating value of 5000-8000 BTU/lb, with virtually no ash or
sulfur produced during combustion. About 6% of contiguous United States land
area put into cultivation for biomass could supply all current demands for oil
The foundation upon which this will be achieved is the emergin concept of
"energy farming," wherein farmers grow and harvest crops for biomass conversion
Pyrolosis is the technique of applying high heat to organic matter
(lignocellulosic materials) in the absence of air or in reduced air. The process
can produce charcoal, condensable organic liquids (pyrolitic fuel oil), non-
condensable gasses, acetic acid, acetone and methanol. The process can be
adjusted to favor charcoal, pyrolytic oil, gas, or methanol production with a
95.5% fuel-to-feed efficiency.
Pyrolysis has been used since the dawn of civilization. Ancient Egyptians
practiced wood distillation by collecting the tars and pyroligneous acid for
use in their embalming industry.
Methanol-powered automobiles and reduced emissions from coal-fired power
plants can be accomplished by biomass conversion to fuel utilizing pyrolysis
technology, and at the same time save the American family farm while turning the
American heartland into a prosperous source of clean energy production.
Pyrolysis has the advantage of using the same technology now used to process
crude fossil fuel oil and coal. Coal and oil conversion is more efficient in
terms of fuel-to-feed ratio, but biomass conversion by pyrolysis has many
environmental and economic advantages over coal and oil.
Pyrolysis facilities will run three shifts a day. Some 68% of the energy of
the raw biomass will be contained in the charcoal and fuel oils made at the
facility. This charcoal has nearly the same heating value in BTU as coal, with
virtually no sulfur.
Pyrolytic fuel oil has similar properties to no.2 and no.6 fuel oil. The
charcoal can be transported economically by rail to all urban area power plants
generating electricity. The fuel oil can be transported economically by trucking
creating more jobs for Americans. When these plants use charcoal instead of
coal, the problems of acid rain begin to disappear.
When this energy system is on line producing a steady supply of fuel for
electrical power plants, it will be more feasible to build the complex gasifying
systems to produce methanol by the addition of the Mobil Co. process equipment
to the gasifier.
Farmers must be allowed to grow an energy crop capable of producing 10 tons
per acre in 90-120 days. This crop must be woody in nature and high in ligno-
cellulose. It must be able to grow in all climactic zones in America.
And it should not compete with food crops for the most productive land, but
be grown in rotation with food crops or on marginal land where food crop isn't
When farmers can make a profit growing energy, it will not take long to get 6%
of continental American land mass into cultivation of biomass fuel - enough to
replace our economy's dependence on fossil fuels. We will no longer be
increasing the Carbon Dioxide burden in the atmosphere. The threat of global
greenhouse warming and adverse climactic change will diminish.
To keep costs down, pyrolysis reactors need to be located within a 50 mile
radius of the energy farms. This necessity will bring life back to our small
towns by providing jobs locally.
Hemp is the number one biomass producer on planet earth: 10 tons per acre in
approximately four months. It is a woody plant containing 77% cellulose. Wood
produce 60% cellulose.
This energy crop can be harvested with equipment readily available. It can
be "cubed" by modifying hay cubing equipment. This method condenses the bulk,
reducing trucking costs from the field to the pyrolysis reactor. And the
biomass cubes are ready for conversion with no further treatment.
Hemp is drought resistant, making it an ideal crop in the dry western regions
of the country. Hemp is the only biomass resource capable of making America
energy independent. And our government outlawed it in 1938.
Remember, in 10 years, by the year 2000, America will have exhausted 80% of
her petroleum reserves. Will we then go to war with the Arabs for the
privilege of driving our cars; will we stripmine our land for coal, and poison
our air so we can drive our autos and extra 100 years; will we raze our forests
for our energy needs?
During World War II, our supply of hemp was cut off by the Japanese. The
federal government responded to the emergency by suspending marijuana
prohibition. Patriotic American farmers were encouraged to apply for a licence
to cultivate hemp and responded enthusiastically. Hundreds of thousands of acres
of hemp were grown.
The argument against hemp production does not hold up to scrutiny: hemp grown
for biomass makes very poor grade marijuana. The 20 to 40 million Americans who
smoke marijuana would loathe to smoke hemp grown for biomass, so a farmer's hemp
biomass is worthless as marijuana.
It is time the government once again respond to our economic emergency as they
did in WWII to permit our farmers to grow American hemp so this mighty nation
can once again become energy independent and smog free.
For more information on the many uses of hemp, contact the Business Alliance
for Commerce in Hemp, Box 71093, LA, CA 90071-0093
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