by Seshata on 17/04/2013 | Cannabis News

What’s happening with Hemp: the car industry

The recent ballots to legalise cannabis and hemp in Colorado and Washington have sparked renewed media interest in the many potential uses for industrial hemp. Kentucky farmers who have long sought permission to grow hemp are also becoming increasingly vocal over the issue, which some say could rejuvenate the ailing rural economy in that state and others.


The recent ballots to legalise cannabis and hemp in Colorado and Washington have sparked renewed media interest in the many potential uses for industrial hemp. Kentucky farmers who have long sought permission to grow hemp are also becoming increasingly vocal over the issue, which some say could rejuvenate the ailing rural economy in that state and others.

In Colorado, farmers have stated their intention to plant hemp this spring, despite the fact that cultivation remains illegal under federal law. Michael Bowman is one such farmer, and plans to plant 100 acres of hemp ultimately destined to become edible oil.

The hemp automobile industry, USA

Although the use of hemp for car parts is not well established in the USA, there are ongoing efforts in various states to encourage such industry. In Michigan, a state with a vast and long-established automobile industry, the Michigan Industrial Hemp Education and Marketing Project (MI-Hemp) has been at the forefront of the campaign to incorporate hemp into the manufacturing process.

In Kentucky, one of the many companies that have written to the agriculture minister in support of the ongoing battle to legalise industrial hemp is a manufacturer of car parts, who would use hemp fibre composite to make car dashboards.

Hemp cars in Canada

1 - The Kestrel, from Motive Industry
The Kestrel, from Motive Industry

The use of hemp to make parts for the car industry is reasonably established in Europe, and Canada is also encouraging its own fledgling industry. In November last year, the Canadian government pledged $95,000 towards various hemp businesses, including a Calgary startup using hemp fibre composite plastic in electric car parts.

Another significant recent development to come out of Canada is Motive Industry’s Kestrel, a prototype electric car built with hemp composite panelling. Although not yet in production, the designers are seeking to roll out the first commercially-available models sometime this year.

Hemp cars in Europe

2 - The i3 electric and the i8 hybrid
The i3 electric city car and the i8 hybrid supercar, two concept designs from BMW partly built from hemp plastic

In 2012, researcher James Meredith of Warwick University, UK published a paper demonstrating that hemp composites were a viable substitute for fibre glass used in car panelling. Out of the three natural composites tested (unwoven hemp, woven flax and woven jute) hemp demonstrated the greatest specific energy absorption (SEA), meaning that it can withstand huge pressure relative to its very light mass.

The European car industry would have no doubt smiled knowingly rather than gasped in astonishment given the long-established use of hemp plastics in car parts there. The Lotus Eco Elise was the first road-ready car made primarily from hemp materials, not just in the panelling but also in the interior textiles.

BMW and Mercedes also make extensive use of hemp composites in high-end models, and BMW in particular has showcased concept cars such as the i3 electric city car and the i8 hybrid supercar. Although these interesting designs have not yet been put into full production, the next few years will no doubt prove very interesting for the hemp car industry.

Comment Section

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James

If we can make car bodies out of hemp, make a fiberboard out of hemp.
We would not have to cut down another tree.(engineered lumber plywood)

27/08/2013

David Cannafacts

Hi James,

Fiber boards are already being made using hemp. Its a very ressorceful plant now already used in hundreds of applications including fiberboard, roofing, flooring, wallboard, caulking, cement, paint, paneling, particleboard, plaster, plywood, reinforced concrete, insulation, insulation panels, spray-on insulation, concrete pipes, bricks, and biodegradable plastic composite.

02/09/2013

manmohan luthra

it's great to use something biodegradable for plastic parts in automobiles.
i am happy

02/01/2017

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