Industrial hemp has become a wonder ingredient of products that extend far beyond the wellness industry. There has been no limit to people’s imaginations when it comes to what industrial hemp can be used for. With its unique properties, industrial hemp is currently being used to make a diverse range of products.
In this article, we are going to be exploring 5 surprising uses for industrial hemp that you may not have heard of before. Before we dive into looking at some of the most unexpected uses of hemp, let’s take a moment to briefly recap on what industrial hemp is and where it comes from.
What is Industrial Hemp?
Industrial hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that typically has a low THC content. Tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. This is one of the main characteristics that distinguish industrial hemp from marijuana. Industrial hemp will usually have a THC content of less than 1%, whereas marijuana can have a THC content of anywhere between 5% and 10%.
Industrial hemp can grow in places where other crops cannot. It has the unique ability to withstand prolonged periods of drought, excessive heat, and frost. The crop also doesn’t require a large amount of water to grow, giving industrial hemp a reputation for being a fairly low maintenance crop to grow. Hemp cultivation has been around for hundreds of years and it shows no sign of slowing down as interest in this plant continues to rise.
You are likely to have heard about many hemp-based foods and beverages. These products can often be consumed as dietary supplements because they are highly nutritious and rich with essential fatty acids. The oil that comes from hemp seeds can be added to just about any food or beverage. From protein powder and marshmallows to beer and wine, industrial hemp has captured the imagination of food producers across the UK.
When it comes to the applications of industrial hemp, food and beverages are just the beginning. Rather than listing every single possible application of industrial hemp, we are going to tell you about the 5 most surprising uses for this cannabis-derived product. There are definitely a few jaw-droppers in here that you might not be expecting.
Hemp Solar Panels
The vast majority of solar panels on the market are made from silicon, which can be rather expensive to produce. Graphene can also be used to produce solar panels, but like silicon, it comes at a price. Hemp solar panels can be much more cost-effective than silicon or graphene solar panels and are usually easier to manufacture.
The waste fibres in hemp crops can be transformed into high-performance energy storing devices. With solar panels becoming increasingly popular, solar panel manufacturers are going to be looking for ways to cut costs and bring additional layers of efficiency to their production process. Going forward, we believe that industrial hemp could play an important role in the mass production of solar panels.
Hemp has been used in clothing for thousands of years, dating all the way back to 8,000 BC. In China, the legendary emperor, Shen Nung, taught his people to cultivate the cannabis sativa plant and use hemp to create clothing. The strength and durability of industrial hemp can help clothing products to last longer.
These characteristics of hemp clothing have fueled a misconception that hemp makes clothing feel tough, inflexible, and rigid, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, over the years, fashion designers have worked incredibly hard to ensure that hemp fabric has the same soft and comfortable texture as cotton. Hemp and cotton are often pitted against one another in the fashion industry and the debate around which is better is unlikely to end anytime soon.
Hemp Building Materials
It’s time to introduce you to hempcrete. This is a biocomposite material that is used for building construction and insulation. When it comes to building construction, the use of hempcrete can have several advantages over other materials. Hempcrete lacks the brittleness that is often associated with concrete material. Therefore, hempcrete does not require expansive joints to hold parts together during temperate-induced contraction and expansion. In certain climates, hempcrete is the perfect alternative to concrete.
Hemp fibres can be used to make cars, bicycles, and even aeroplanes. There really is no limit to what can be achieved with these fibres. Leading figures in the automotive industry have been experimenting with industrial hemp for years. In 1941, Henry Ford produced the ‘hemp car’ which was made from hemp fibre and plastic, resulting in an extremely sturdy car body.
A hemp bicycle was developed by Nicolas Meyer from Onyx Composites. It was primarily created as a prototype to show that hemp fibre can be used as an alternative to glass or carbon fibre, making the production process of a bicycle far more sustainable. Typically, the process of manufacturing a bicycle with carbon or glass fibres requires a significant amount of time, with the materials having to be melted down at a high temperature.
In contrast, hemp fibre is much easier to use and is also renewable, bringing sustainability to the forefront of Nicholas’ bicycle design. As sustainability becomes an increasingly important issue, it’s possible that we could eventually see hemp fibre bicycles enter mass production.
Biofuel can be produced from industrial hemp. It simply involves taking hemp oil and processing it into biodiesel. This all stems from the same concept of vegetable oil being used as engine fuel. In 1895, Dr. Rudolf Diesel designed and developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. You can take the same fundamental principles of this concept and add hemp oil to the equation. Hemp oil doesn’t generate any sulphur emissions, unlike other types of fuel.
We hope that you enjoyed finding out more about some of the most unexpected applications of industrial hemp. In many cases, industrial hemp is a sustainable alternative to the use of other products, particularly in regards to clothing and fuel. In the coming years, we expect the use cases of industrial hemp to continue to grow.