Methyl esters, or bio-diesel, can be made from any oil or fat including hemp seed oil. The reaction requires the oil, an alcohol (usually methanol), and a catalyst, which produces bio-diesel and small amount of glycerol or glycerin. When co-fired with 15% methanol, bio-diesel fuel produces energy and less than a third the amount of pollution as petroleum diesel.
Energy and Fuel from Hemp Stalks through Pyrolysis
Pyrolysis is the technique of applying high heat to biomass, or organic plants and tree matter, with little or no air. Reduced emissions from coal-fired power plants and automobiles can be accomplished by converting biomass to fuel utilizing pyrolysis technology. The process can produce, from lingo-cellulosic material (like the stalks of hemp), charcoal, gasoline, ethanol, non-condensable gasses, acetic acid, acetone, methane, and methanol. Process adjustments can be done to favor charcoal, pyrolytic oil, gas, or methanol, with 95.5% fuel-to-feed ratios. Around 68% of the energy of the raw biomass will be contained in the charcoal and fuel oils — renewable energy generated here at home, instead of overpaying for foreign petroleum.
Pyrolysis facilities can run 3 shifts a day, and since pyrolysis facilities need to be within 50 miles of the energy crop to be cost effective, many new local and rural jobs will be created, not to mention the employment opportunities in trucking and transportation.
Hemp vs. Fossil Fuels
Pyrolysis facilities can use the same technology used now to process fossil fuel oil and coal. Petroleum coal and oil conversion is more efficient in terms of fuel-to-feed ratio, but there are many advantages to conversion by pyrolysis.
1) Biomass has a heating value of 5000-8000 BTU/lb, with virtually no ash or sulfur emissions.
2) Ethanol, methanol, methane gas, and gasoline can be derived from biomass at a fraction of the cost of the current cost of oil, coal, or nuclear energy, especially when environmental costs are factored in. Each acre of hemp could yield about 1000 gallons of methanol.
3) When an energy crop is growing, it takes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air, and releases an equal amount when it is burned, creating a balanced system, unlike petroleum fuels, which only release CO2. When an energy crop like hemp is grown on a massive scale, it will initially lower the CO2 in the air, and then stabilize it at a level lower than before the planting of the energy crop.
4) Use of biomass would end acid rain, end sulfer-based smog, and reverse the greenhouse effect.
Unlike petroleum reserves, America has enough coal to last 100-300 years, but burning it for electricity puts sulfur (toxic to every membrane in which it comes in contact, especially the simplest life forms – into the air, which leads to acid rain, which kills 50,000 Americans, and 5,000 – 10,000 Canadians, annually, and decimates the forests, rivers, and animal populations.
Charcoal can be created from biomass through pyrolysis (charcoaling), which has nearly the same heating value in BTU as coal, virtually without sulfur. Biomass can also be co-fired with coal to reduce emissions.
Ethanol and Methanol
Ethanol is a water-free, high-octane alcohol which can be used as fuel to drive cars. Under current conditions, use of ethanol-blended fuels such as E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) can reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases by as much as 37.1%. Ethanol-powered vehicles do suffer in performance (barely), but ethanol is effective as a fuel additive because it helps engines burn cleaner.
Once pyrolysis facilities are up and running, converting biomass into charcoal for electrical power plants, it will be more feasible to build the complex gasifying systems to produce ethanol and/or methanol from the cubed biomass, or to make high-octane lead-free gasoline from the methanol using a catalytic process developed by Georgia Tech University in conjunction with Mobil Oil Corporation.
Ethanol is currently being used as a fuel additive, replacing toxic methyl tertiary ether (MTBE). Ethanol producers are currently providing only 1% of America’s liquid fuel. Soon though, as new development processes are researched, and with the use of hemp, the plant worlds number one prod