Bio-composites and fuel from renewable cannabis are transforming the transportation sector.
As most people know, vehicles of all sorts have a negative impact on the environment. Each vehicle operating on fossil fuels emits CO2 whether on the road, in the air, by rail or at sea. Tons per year, per trip, per vehicle -- it’s a huge problem for our planet. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “Cars, trucks, commercial aircraft, and railroads, among other sources, all contribute to transportation sector emissions.”1 This is where we can make a real difference in terms of emissions and global effects
Electricity is the largest cause of greenhouse gases (GHGs) at 29% which accounts for one third of all GHGs. But 27% of U.S. GHGs are from transportation (with industry contributing another 21%.) The three combined totals account for 77% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. so it makes sense to target all these industries for CO2 reduction. Unfortunately, not enough is being done, and may not be done, in time to stave off the consequences for the planet. The costs to the world's economies isn't something we can ignore which is why many countries balk at the idea of addressing climate change, or reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. The infrastructures are in place and, while we know they're unsustainable, they ARE in place (as in "bad known in favor of the unknown.")
You’ll notice in the graphic that 60% of emissions are from light duty vehicles. Yes, that category includes trucks like FedEx delivery trucks, U-Haul moving trucks and smaller commercial delivery trucks, but it also includes passenger vehicles. Yet only 6% of GHGs are considered residential so we have to look at sustainable ways to change energy, infrastructure and transportation in our world in order to reverse climate change. We won’t list all the greenhouse gas emissions by country in this article but it’s something that each person should find out.
Find out and then fight against because the ENTIRE planet is a risk and everyone -- everywhere -- needs to do their part. Every one of us can do something to lessen our own carbon footprint. Even more so if you own a business. The Environmental Defense fund has some tips in their Green Frieght Handbook. It's not just for transportation businesses but also for businesses who use freight in any aspect -- and that covers a LOT of companies, large and small.
The EDF has resources to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint such as the Green Freight Handbook.2
In an effort to address concerns about CO2, fossil fuels and the damage to the planet, a former Dell executive, Bruce Dietzen, produced the Renew Sports Car, a high-performance, carbon neutral car using hemp materials.3 Additionally, the car can be made to run on biofuel, another component to transforming transportation. But Deitzen wasn’t the first, just the first to make it a reality.
He credits Henry Ford as his inspiration and has this to say, “It’s not that he cared about the environment, but because he was raised on a farm, he loved farmers, and the farmers back then were in as bad a shape as they are today.”
“Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making, and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the fields?” — Henry Ford
There are countless websites and blogs on the internet that claim Ford's 1941 car was made entirely from hemp. Sorry to disappoint but it wasn't. So, what WAS the car made of? We decided going to the source was the best way to gain accurate information and so quote The Henry Ford museum.
“The frame, made of tubular steel, had 14 plastic panels attached to it. The car weighed 2000 lbs., 1000 lbs. lighter than a steel car. The exact ingredients of the plastic panels are unknown because no record of the formula exists today. One article claims that they were made from a chemical formula that, among many other ingredients, included soybeans, wheat, hemp, flax and ramie; while the man who was instrumental in creating the car, Lowell E. Overly, claims it was "…soybean fiber in a phenolic resin with formaldehyde used in the impregnation"
"The car was exhibited at Dearborn Days in 1941. Many people ask us about Henry Ford's experiments with making plastic parts for automobiles...these experiments resulted in what was described as a "plastic car made from soybeans."
“There were several reasons why Henry Ford wanted to build this car: 1) He was looking for a project that would combine the fruits of industry with agriculture; 2) He also claimed that the plastic panels made the car safer than traditional steel cars; and that the car could even roll over without being crushed, and 3) Henry hoped his new plastic material might replace the traditional metals used in cars."4
In 2008, Lotus unveiled the hemp-bodied Eco Elise, but it remains a “concept car” not in production. Then there was the Canadian electric car with a hemp bio composite body called the Kestrel. As of October 2017, we can’t find the car, or the manufacturers, so we can only surmise that they ran into major problems -- perhaps restrictions or funding -- and that was the end of this once very promising advancement in the hemp based transportation industry. Whatever happened, the Kestrel never made it off the assembly line, and neither did the Eco Elise.
Today, hemp bio composite cars ARE finally a reality thanks to innovator Bruce Dietzen. He invested about $200,000 of his own money building an eco-friendly hemp car, commonly known as The Cannabis Car. The car has toured America and was featured on Jay Leno’s Garage.5 The car’s body was produced using 100 lbs. of cannabis and you can order one through his company Renew Sports Cars (with a friendly starting price of around $40,000.)
Dietzen’s goal was to use eco-friendly materials and he completed the car in his garage in 2016 using the chassis of a Mazda and about 100 pounds of imported Chinese hemp. Woody material from inside the hemp stalk is combined with a resin to form a kind of super-strong plastic that is then molded into a car body. According to him, these tightly woven cannabis leaves make the car's body ten times stronger than steel.
What intrigued Dietzen was the flexibility of using cannabis-based hemp, and its strength. Nearly every piece of his car that could be made of hemp is, including the body, dash and rugs. He says, “Every bit of plastic in the world can be made from hemp instead of oil, and it needs to be; it’s one of the big ways we’re going to reverse climate change.”6
The fact that he can produce a Renew car that runs on bio fuels brings us to the next part of hemp changing the fact of transportation – biofuels. Cool Planet is an innovative company based in Colorado that Deitzen mentioned in a Miami Herald article.
From the Cool Planet website:
Cool Fuels: Hydrocarbon Based, Drop-in, Carbon Negative Fuels
“Cool Plant’s biomass conversion technology can be further enhanced to produce hydrocarbon based renewable transportation fuels, including gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. Cool Fuels are chemically identical to those produced from crude oil but, unlike fossil fuels, they are a renewable, clean source of energy.”
Renewable Chemicals from Cool Fuels
"Cool Fuels also are an excellent source of renewable aromatic hydrocarbons. Aromatics are key building blocks in the production of plastic resins, which are used in applications such as packaging and building materials. After undergoing addition processing, the aromatics in Cool Fuels can be converted to renewable plastic bottles, fibers and other building materials."
The biofuels appear to have taken the backseat to their other developments, Cool Terra and Cool Fauna, but we believe this is a company to keep an eye on.
Several other hemp biofuel companies have come, and gone, in a market completely dominated by the big oil and coal companies; giants that have the world’s energy market in a stranglehold. There are many who fight these giants, but our favorite is 350.org.
The truth is, some hemp innovations are here today, and hopefully, here to stay. Some are in the process of creation and implementation. Some are still in the dream phase. We will state unequivocally that hemp WILL change the transportation industry when the truth about climate change -- and innovation and technology -- begins to overshadow greed and corruption.
Even the big oil companies are in on the game…most likely because they want to dominate the renewable and sustainable markets one day -- plus they're anxious to avoid the scandals that are erupting around them regarding climate change. Exxon knew back in 1968 that they were damaging the environment – and so did other oil companies -- and now they're being investigated. Not only did they hide the information, they set out on a campaign to deny climate change.
Now they hope to sweep "all that" under the rug and want to try to look like heroes for using sustainable products. They broke it, let's hope they can actualy fix it. And let's hope that the politicians in bed with big oil will open their eyes and see the handwriting on the wall.
Bob Dylan said it very well: The Times, They Are A-Changin'
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’