Here at J-Tech Solar, we help families and businesses harness the power of the sun for energy to help make a positive ecological impact on our environment. We love helping people help the planet, and this week we’re talking about another unconventional way people are taking action to help save our ecosystem.
Hemp: What is it, really?
Also called industrial hemp, this refers to the non-psychoactive varieties of Cannabis sativa L. In fact, our very own University of Nebraska – Lincoln has been researching the plant’s benefits in recent years. Hemp is commonly grown as a renewable source for raw materials, and is often incorporated into thousands of products. Hemp is different than the drug form of the plant, marijuana, and holds many practical uses that are makes for an eco-friendly and fast-growing industry.
Hemp replaces trees as the source of raw material for wood and paper, which helps conserve forests. Trees take decades to grow to maturity, while a full hemp field can be grown in a matter of months. When discussing paper manufacturing, four acres of trees produces just as much paper as one acre of hemp. By replacing products traditionally made from trees with hemp, we can begin to save our forests.
When burned, hemp can provide two types of fuel – hemp biodiesel (made from the oil of the hemp seed) and hemp ethanol/methanol (made from the fermented stalk.) When growing, hemp produces nearly 20-40% oxygen. This is a hefty amount of oxygen, which ends up compensating for the carbon dioxide that is released into the air when it is burned. However, even when the carbon dioxide is released, it is absorbed by the next crop, which can be harvested as soon as 120 days after planting. Hemp used for fuel can reduce effects of global warming, acid rain, and the depletion in the ozone layer on the environment.
The hemp crop grows densely and vigorously. Since sun cannot penetrate the plant to reach the ground, the crop is often unhindered by weeds growing at the base. Its deep roots use ground water and reduce its salinity, erosion of topsoil is limited, and water pollution is thereby limited. Soil enrichment is key for healthy gardens and production of other crops, and fields can be greatly impacted by growing a hemp every few years. This could provide farmers with better soil and they could, in turn, sell their crop for use in a number of industries, including paper production and as the base for the next product we’re discussing.
Hemp is beginning to make an impact on the construction industry. By utilizing a mixture called hempcrete, construction companies are able not only to build a stronger infrastructure for their buildings, but also to help make a positive impact on the environment. Hempcrete is made using the woody interior of the Cannabis sativa plant combined with lime and water. Free from toxins, hempcrete fights off mold and pests, and is nearly fireproof. By using hemp in construction, we’re able to have more durable and insulated infrastructures while also refraining from using harmful chemicals and compounds on the building process.
If you’re ready to make an impact on the environment but aren’t sure how, call us today to discuss some options. While we haven’t utilized hempcrete yet, solar power is a great way for residential consumers to try to improve the ecosystem on a larger scale. Together we can better impact our environment and have a lasting, positive impact on our world.