Hemp or industrial hemp is the same species of plant as cannabis. This cannabis- hemp contains only 0.3% or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive natural chemical compound.
Hemp as a drug or industrial hemp comes from the species- Cannabis Sativa and may contain the psychoactive component THC but not enough to get you high. It is rich in the non-psychotic or non-toxic natural chemical compound- cannabidiol (CBD).
Hemp has been cultivated since ancient times for its versatile properties for humans. The benefits of using hemp are many. Benefits of using hemp in construction and benefits of using hemp in Textile Industries beyond description. The contribution of hemp in the construction and textile industries is much more significant than we know, which makes it highly valued as a crop.
Hemp is now widely famous for its multipurpose uses, making it unique and increasingly popular among people day by day. If you want to know more about hemp or its benefits in the construction and textile industries, we urge you to go through this article.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is one of the most well-known terms for certain varieties of the Cannabis sativa plants. It is rich in phytocannabinoid CBD. Unlike marijuana, hemp has no psychoactive properties that can cause high due to having little to zero psychoactive chemical compound THC. People know it as one of the oldest domesticated crops for humans as they have cultivated hemp plants for thousands of years for medicinal and nutritional purposes.
People in ancient China are assumed first to start cultivating hemp around 2,700 BC. Based on historical records, hemp first expanded its market across Asia almost 2,000–2,200 years ago. Then it went on spreading in Europe. According to the Columbia History of the World, the oldest relic of human industry is a scrap of hemp fabric used approximately at 8,000 BC.
More than 100 cannabinoids may persist in hemp. The most well-known one is non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), making hemp multifarious and widespread for its various properties. Hemp extract contains a high concentration of CBD of up to 40%. The multipurpose utility and various hemp stalk and hemp seeds have made it unique and versatile.
As history expresses, industrial hemp has been grown for its fiber, not for CBD. People think that hemp’s fiber is green and eco-friendly. You can divide hemp fibers into two categories. The outer, longer fibers are called bast fibers used in textiles, ropes, and paper, and the inner fibers are called hurds (the coarse parts of hemp that adhere to the fiber after it is separated). They are used in building materials or plastics.
Benefits of Using Hemp in the Construction and Textile Industries
Cannabis hemp is an ancient domesticated crop. Yet, its conventional and widespread expansion began with the cannabis legalization process to gain global momentum or attraction for its exceptional medicinal and therapeutic potential, with its vast market waiting behind the doors of adult-use regulation.
But many don’t know that the cannabis plant has even more tremendous potential as it can be used massively as raw material for textile and construction. Here are some significant sectors to explain a wide range of industrial benefits of hemp–
Reducing the Carbon Footprint
A carbon footprint means the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an individual, event organization, service, place, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Greenhouse gases, such as the carbon-containing gases- carbon dioxide and methane, are usually emitted through the burning of fossil fuels, land clearance, and the production and consumption of food, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation, and other services.
Wright, Kemp, and Williams suggested the following definition of a carbon footprint: “A measure of the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions of a defined population, system or activity, considering all relevant sources, sinks, and storage within the spatial and temporal boundary of the population, system or activity of interest.”
The global average annual carbon footprint per person in 2014 was about 5 tonnes CO2eq. One of the most recognized cannabis activists of the last decades, Steve DeAngelo, expresses that hemp can replace nearly any petroleum product.
He says, “Hemp can be grown without pesticides. Captures 22 tons of atmospheric carbon per hectare. It is a powerful phytoremediator that extracts industrial poisons from contaminated soil. And, likewise, it is a powerful tool to control erosion and remedy unproductive or marginally productive lands,” He adds: “We are only now harnessing the industrial hemp plant’s potential as a rotating crop with regenerative agriculture qualities.”
The Textile Industry
Hemp fabric has been existing for a long time, from Rembrandt’s canvases to the sails in Columbus’s caravels. Now, the textile industry is experiencing hemp’s involvement intensely, especially as a replacement for cotton. You can process the material for lightweight, soft, breathable, and durable clothing, replacing most cotton applications in the textile industry. If we consider how cotton represents 43% of all fibers used for clothing and textiles worldwide, we can say that hemp has enormous potential ahead.
For example, iconic jeans company Levi’s has recently announced a pilot project to replace 27% of its denim’s cotton with hemp for sustenance. Why? Because cotton requires much more water, pesticides, and soil to grow compared to hemp. Note that cotton requires one to expend 10% for pesticide use and 25% for insecticides globally, while hemp requires very few chemicals to grow. To be precise, due to hemp’s resilience, one hectare of hemp land can produce three times more clothing than one of cotton.
Numerous luxury hotel chains have also joined the hemp frenzy. Patagonia, the premium mountain clothing brand, launched a line of hemp garments as part of its sustainability push.
Construction and Plastics
One of the most innovative and latest uses of hemp fiber is in construction for its high strength, flexibility, thermal, and insulation power. It is now used as a wood substitute in insulation panels and planks or as the main component of compact bricks for outdoor and indoor walls and roofs, replacing conventional bricks.
Houses built with hemp bricks and planks are waterproof, more resistant, and insulated. They are energy-saving with better soundproofing. Moreover, hemp’s use as renewable material allows retaining an excellent environmental condition. As a construction material, hemp is an organic product without any dangerous additives for human health. Its use can help avoid harmful materials to the environment, and the waste produced from it is easily recyclable.
The hemp blocks are made of hemp vegetable fibers, natural lime, and earth. These components are mixed, pressed, and air-dried. So the energy consumed in manufacturing is little. The benefits of these natural bricks are their insulating power that can make houses have the same characteristics as any conventional construction. They are resistant to charges and fire used to make buildings of various heights and contribute to environmental protection.
Hemp plank is a clean and recyclable product used for insulating roofs, walls, and floors, replacing conventional wooden planks. Because of the texture, hemp plank can easily adjust to any construction and is easy to assemble. Planks can ensure automatic regulation of humidity without any loss of heat and thereby facilitate energy-saving housing. Unlike wood, hemp does not contain albumin and therefore removes the risk of being attacked by parasites and protects from breaking down.
When it comes to hemp plastics, you can see that BMW uses hemp plastics in several of its electric car models, such as the i3 and i8. But they are not pioneers. In 1941, Henry Ford presented a car model whose entire body was built from hemp bioplastic, and that ran on cannabis biofuel.
Hemp bioplastic has endless uses, like bags, boxes, and more. Unlike synthetic plastics, it is produced from renewable and biodegradable materials. You will be surprised that some packaging industry giants such as Sonoco Products, O. Berk, Constantia Flexibles, Klöckner Pentaplast, and MG America have already declared their interest in this material.
In the 1930s, Ford Motor Company provided a whole facility for extracting biodiesel from hemp biomass. They did so because any conventional diesel engine can use biofuel made from pressed hemp seed. Hemp produces approximately 780 liters of oil per hectare, about four times more than soybeans.
Moreover, hemp biomass can be used to produce ethanol, which is vital alcohol to create biofuels. The producers conventionally extract it from corn or sugar cane. A 2010 study from the University of Connecticut detected that hemp oil has a 97% conversion rate to diesel.
Although it takes approximately 50% more biofuel than petroleum to generate the same energy, hemp fuel is a renewable alternative and does not harm the environment.
The Bottom Line
Hemp is a various potent crop, especially for industrial and construction products and uses. So to make proper use of this valuable ingredient, we need sufficient knowledge. More studies and research can provide the required knowledge, which will eventually help create a new ruling for its widespread use and numerous positive effective services for humans without obstructions. We should make sure of its proper uses and avail the maximum benefits from it.
Walter was not an engineer even from the first day he stepped at the University of California in Los Angeles. He only had to fulfill his Father's wish to pursue civil engineering. He graduated in 2015, and he started practicing as a writer. His passion was thriving in the hemp industry following the controversies and myths about the plant. Walter E. Russo later embarks on a full-time job in a hemp website, and he now delivers informative content on everything you should know about hemp. His in-depth research and elaborate skills have earned him a reputation as a trusted writer. He enjoys watching football during his leisure hours.