Industrial Hemp for the Automotive Industry


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Industrial Hemp for the Automotive Industry

  1. 1. MI-Hemp Report 1 Hemp for the Automotive Industry Michigan is Poised for the Future The Michigan A radio broadcast in 2009 given by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm highlighted the states commitment to go green. She stated Industrial Hemp Michigan is going to lead a green industrial revolution in our Education and nation. Marketing Project Well be a beacon that guides this country along the path is dedicated to to energy independence. expanding Our state has the manufacturing infrastructure, the skilled workforce, the universities and the natural resources to industrial hemp as do it. Michigan will design and manufacture fuel-efficient cars, advanced batteries for electric cars, wind turbines, solar panels an agricultural and more. resource for Recently, renewable and Green Energy production projects have produced more than 11,000 new jobs in the state. Small, residential- Michigan farmers, sized wind turbines in Manistee; the expansion of an existing wind turbine manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids; a new solar panel factory providing a natural, in Battle Creek; and new and expanded Green Economy operations in renewable and Detroit, Novi, Saginaw and other Michigan cities have benefited from the new focus. CO2-neutral In addition, the Michigan Energy Corps was formed, putting unemployed citizens back to work with special Green Economy environmental programs like weatherizing homes, schools, and public buildings, and installing renewable energy technologies. option to move our Clearly, Michigan can offer a unique synthesis of Green Economy expansion as the center of the U.S. and indeed the world state into the new automotive industry. With the Green Economy goals of finding newer and greener manufacturing materials, lessening the weight of motor G r e e n E c o n o m y. vehicles, and finding greener sources of energy, we have to ask ourselves if underdeveloped and un-utilized sources can fill new needs. For more Providing Green Economy jobs, and benefiting existing industries – with information, visit the goal of keeping more Michigan money in Michigan with localized systems – would be key to making the state synonymous with the phrase “Green Economy.” The Michigan Industrial Hemp Education and Marketing Project (MI-Hemp) was created in 2008 with these and many other environmental, yet profitable, goals in mind.Formed in 2008, MI-Hemp is a Hemp is the industrial form of Cannabis, the same plant that cangrassroots non-profit based in also, through completely different lines of seeds, pollinations andHillman, MI. growing techniques, make an illegal recreational, medical and >>> © All rights reserved. Design and Production by and
  2. 2. spiritual drug. actually made of hemp, and weve exposed those as “Hemp is hope and not dope,” says MI-Hemps well.”Executive Director, Everett Swift. His group Although the car is currently only a concept,advocates the reintroduction of variations of the plant Preston commented on lessons learned, stating “thewhich provided textiles for American soldiers during the hemp [has been] successful,” having passed the qualityRevolutionary War, rope and oakum (a wood binder) for test. Lotus is “taking bits of technology off this car, andmost of the naval vessels throughout history (until actually putting it into production.”recently), and the paper for the first drafts of the Back in Norfolk, TopDeclaration of Independence. One of the major Gears host, whileindustrial crops in history, with a long lineage from wearing boots, pantsancient Taiwan and China, nearly 30,000 uses have and a shirt made withbeen found for hemp. hemp, spoke with “Hemp has untapped economic potential,” adds farmer Dan Squire.Swift. “Weve got great This paper explores the possible uses of hemp confidence in the cropin Michigans huge automotive industry, and how it can as a change crop,”be beneficial to jobs and the environment. Squire commented. Granholm finished her broadcast with the Getting down to purewords “Through our continued partnerships with the economics, Hensonfederal government and the private sector, we are asked “How does itwitnessing the dawn of a new Green Economy in stack up withMichigan.” MI-Hemp hopes this is the case, and within this profitability in com-small report, will attempt to illustrate why. parison to conventional arable crops?”Hemp and Automotive Production in England “Its a lot better margin than peas and beans, very comparable with really good rape* crops, and willIn a recent episode of the English TV show Top Gear, even stand on its own feet with cereals.”host Adam Henson explained misunderstood aspects of (*Relatives of the mustard and cabbage family, including canola.)the hemp plant. “Because of its association with the When asked how easy hemp is to grow, Squiredrug, it was banned in England until 1993. But you cant confirmed what MI-Hemp describes as some of the trulyget drugs from hemp, and so now its back in our fields, highest benefits of utilizing hemp: “You sew it in earlyand being grown as a crop.” May, late April … [use] good fertilizer, probably half of Lee Preston of Lotus Engineering, which makes what is required of wheat or rape, and no chemicalshigh-performance cars, discussed their Eco Elise, from that day onward until its harvested.”explaining to Top Gear why they are integrating hemp The (vol. 7, no. 1 ofin this test vehicle. “What we want to do here is 2002) detailed the reintroduction of hemp as a resourceactually reduce the carbon footprint of the car. We for European industry. In the article “Natural Fibres inused hemp instead of fiberglass, because basically its the European Automotive Industry,” authors Michaelgrown locally to us and its a strong material.” Karus and Markus Kaup found that in Germany and Preston also introduced the car to Austria, hemp use in the auto industry rose at an auto show in London. "The seats incredible 90% between the years 1996 and 2000,are actually made out of hemp." This includes the making it the second largest bio-crop, behind flax, butcomposite form of the seat itself, and even the mats. way ahead of jute, sisal, kenaf, and even coconut fibre.“The seats are lighter than standard … the performance Other EU contries used over 3,500 metric tons of hempis enhanced.” in automobiles in 2000. He continued, "The hemp we use is locally The article also listed 16 manufacturers usingsourced … from within 20 miles of the factory in similar methods for such things as door inserts in AudiNorfolk," adding the company providing the source coupes, seat backs and parcel trays in Volkswagons,material is growing well over 3000 acres of hemp. and headliner panels, door inserts, column covers, The outer panels of the car are also made out of instrument panels, and rear shelf panels in Opels.composite-formed hemp, which is "very strong." The European Daimler-Chrysler used natural fibres in theEco Elise doesnt disappoint Lotus purists, having a door inserts, windshields and dashboards, businessbold, wide stripe from the front to the back. The tables, and column covers in their A-, C-, E- and S-difference here is clear – no paint, showing the hemp Klasse (Class) vehicle lines.panels bio-form. “You could see that the panels, the This important report is online at the first link infront, the access panels, the hard top, the spoiler, are the Resources section on page 6 of this report.2
  3. 3. Japanese Manufacturers Jump on the Hemp The photograph below was taken in 1936 inBandwagon Dearborn, MI, showing hemp grown for Henry Fords Soy Bean Institute, which manufactured early composites. A “Soy Bean Car” was produced, whichThe Honda Civic Hybrid series of cars released in 2007 a included hemp in the edition vehicle with hemp. The musical group Commenting on his innovations, a PurdueFall Out Boy designed a “tricked-out” version of the car University analysis released in 2002 commented “Henrywith black with silver paint designs and some extra Ford recognized the utility of hemp in early times. Inaccouterments. Inside was hempified upholstery, advance of today’s automobile manufacturers, heincluding the headliner and carpeting with standard- constructed a car with certain components made ofissue vinyl. resin stiffened with hemp fiber.” The published report (ASHS Press, Alexandria,Ford Leads the Way VA) continues: There is also considerable potential for otherFor several years, the Ford Motor Company has been industries using hemp in the manner that thethe largest American manufacturer for Green automobile industry has demonstrated isRevolution vehicles. With sev eral hybrids and even feasible. Of course, all other types ofhybrid SUVs, their commitments have been inventive transportation vehicles from bicycles toand even include natural bio-composites. Their 2008/9 airplanes might make use of such technology.Sustainability Report highlights their dedication Natural fibers have considerable advantages fortowards such concerns as lowering carbon emissions in use in conveyance (Karus et al. 2000): lowmanufacturing and reassessing all areas of the density and weight reduction, favorableproduction process. mechanical, acoustical, and processing The Report notes: properties (including low wear on tools), no splintering in accidents, occupational health We are also developing fiber composites a benefits (compared to glass fibers), no off- substitute for the glass fibers traditionally used gassing of toxic compounds, and price in plastic automotive components to make advantages. Additional types of composites them stronger. For example, we are assessing using hemp in combination with other natural the possibility of substituting up to 30 percent fibers, post-industrial plastics or other types of of the glass-fiber reinforcement in injection resins, are being used to produce non-woven molded plastics with sisal and hemp natural matting for padding, sound insulation, and fibers. These parts have competitive other applications. mechanical and thermal properties and good surface appearance, and can be cost Henry Ford is quoted as having asked why we competitive. These natural-fiber reinforced should use up forests and mines, when “we can get the parts also reduce vehicle weight significantly equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual and reduce life-cycle CO2 emissions, compared growth of the hemp fields?” to glass-fiber-reinforced parts. Their 2003/4 Corporate Citizenship Reportstates “We are experimenting with hemp, flax, purifiedcellulose and native prairie grasses. In addition, we aretesting ways to replace the nonrenewable resin withrenewable materials to make a vehicle ... completelybiodegradeable (compostable) once its useful life isover.” This is the second wave of sustainability in thehistory of the company. In the 1930s and 1940s, HenryFord grew hemp on his estate in Dearborn, MI, andbegan the effort to make body panels from biomass,especially the strongest linear fibers. Although theoverall strength of the panels were not as strong assteel, they were lighter and would last longer, as mostblows to the panels would bounce out, similar to theflex panels of later vehicles made by GMs Saturndivision. 3
  4. 4. Hemp Instead of Polluting Petrochemicals in plant.” She added, “Theres no sulfur,” holding hemp inYour Gas Tank? high esteem, pointing to one of its major benefits to the environment. No conversion was needed to burn the fuel.Rudolf Diesels 1890 invention of the efficient engine The white station wagon made a 13,000 milebearing his name sought to empower farmers by giving (21,000 km) circuit around the U.S. and Canada, visitingthem an alternative to high-priced petroleum-derived 50 cities in 90 days, using 600 gallons of hemp seed oilfuel sources. In that vein he designed an engine to run for fuel.on the oil of hemp and peanuts. The performance of biodiesel is virtually thesame as petro-diesel. Like ethanol, biodiesel is a Of course when grown for biomass, hemp conversionrenewable fuel and can be produced domestically. This can produce fuels such as methane, methanol andkeeps U.S. dollars from flowing out of the country, and regular gasoline. This way, we move closer to the goalpreferably the state, and reduces dependence on of energy independence while curbing the use of palmforeign oil. oil and even corn, used to make biodiesel and E85 Interestingly, former U.S. President George ethanol, leaving food to be grown for food.Bush, Sr., briefly discussed biofuels. As reported by the Chris Conrad, author ofconservative Website: , asks the ethical question “Should we take food from this hungry world to make fuel when we can turn Bush had a smart plan to wean America off of oil, garbage and energy crops into fuel?” at least partially ... On June 12, 1989, the self- "If all the diesel engines today were converted proclaimed "environmental president," unveiled to use hemp biodiesel, you could wipe out world hunger a plan to cut down on air pollution caused by while providing a natural balance to global warming" petrol fuels. says Paul Stanford of the Hemp and Cannabis "Too many Americans continue to Foundation, also working to restore industrial hemp as breathe dirty air," said the elder Bush, "and an agricultural commodity. political paralysis has plagued further progress Some engines would need a conversion to use against air pollution. Weve seen enough of this the new fuel, and vehicles could come from showrooms stalemate. Its time to clear the air." in the future able to use these new sources. How? Why switching to methanol, of course -- what Bush tagged, "home-grown energy for America." Gives you kind of a warm, The vast majority of U.S. vehicles use gasoline, and patriotic feeling, doesn’t it? Turning our own hemp can be used with several different processes to trees to fuel (methanol being alcohol made from replace petrochemicals. Pyrolysis, the heating of wood) makes more sense than relying on fickle biomass, especially in a related process called foreign cartels like OPEC and even more fickle gasification, has a low cost-per-energy ratio. Variations domestic cartels like the U.S. Department of of this process can be used to produce several types of Energy. petrochemical replacement. Unfortunately, like so many other things One of these is methanol. In 2005, Nobel Prize in the Bush presidency, what started out good, winner George A. Olah proposed an entire economy spoiled in the end. Along with bombing Iraq, Bush also bombed his energy policy. Despite all based on methanol. His essay, "Beyond Oil and his gallant (and probably disingenuous) efforts, Gas: The Methanol Economy,” appeared in a alternative non-petrol fuels remained on the German chemical trade publication, and was drawing board, far from the gas tanks of turned into a book in 2006 with the same name Americans. (written with 2 co-authors). Pity. Biomass engineer Lynn Osburn, in her book [January 08, 2001] Energy Farming in America, argued that pyrolysis is the most efficient method of biomass conversion, capable of replacing non-renewable fossil fuels.In April of 2001, a classic Mercedes-Benz rolled into the Methanol, however, has its drawbacks, such aslobby of a Washington, DC, hotel for its debut as the a high freezing temperature and its toxicity if spilled orHemp Car. This time, the car was a normal, non-hemp absorbed by the human body. Further research cancar, with hemp in the fuel tank instead of in the panels possibly lessen these drawbacks, or other final outputand cushions. products may be used instead, such as hemp biomass Spokesperson Kellie Sigler explained the fuel for ethanol and other gasoline variants.comes from hemp seed oil, and that “... its much less “Imagine the potential now that betterpolluting, its renewable, the net carbon added to the technology and cogeneration power are available,”atmosphere is balanced out by the life cycle of the4
  5. 5. in the European Union was 1,770 metric tons,Recently, a product called Hempoline, a mixture of and certainly higher. The report, in examining trendshemp oil and ethanol, was used in an episode of the and conditions over the previous decade notedtelevision series Coolfuel Roadtrip. “increasing prices brought about a growing demand for Clearly, the methods of utilizing hemp hemp fibres in the automotive industry.”(p. 34) Sinceagricultural products for automotive fuel are varied. then, of course, the market has expanded even further.The introduction of this crop will work perfectly with our Consider Mercedes-Benz, a leader in usingfree market economy to provide less polluting hemp for press-molded parts. Most of their C-classalternatives to the environmentally damaging use of vehicles in the last several years have utilized roughlypetrochemicals. 30 biocomposite parts, mostly including hemp. The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy bureau of the U.S. Department of Energy has a recentThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Parks cooperative research partnership with R&D fromand Recreation, began using biodiesel blends in 2005. General Motors, Vehicle Design R&A from Ford, and theTheir press release on the Website, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The relationships“Biodiesel Fuel Used in Parks and Recreation report subject was “Lightweighting Materials focusesEquipment,” mentions “More than 25 facilities are using on the development and validation of advancedbiodiesel blends to fuel their diesel mowers, tractors, materials and manufacturing technologies to reducebulldozers, backhoes and other diesel-powered heavy automobile weight without compromising otherequipment.” attributes.” It studied hemp, flax and kenaf. All samples for hemp came from Stemergy, a hemp-growing company in Ontario.Most Major Manufacturers Using Hemp Over 1.5 Million Cars in U.S. Made with HempIn addition to Ford and General Motors mentioned in Compositesthis paper, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Hondaare each making use of hemp for a variety of reasons. Natural Fiber Composite (NFC) use is on the upswing, “It makes sense,” says Everett Swift , Executive according to FlexForm Technologies, LLC, of Elkhart,Director for the Michigan Industrial Hemp Education Indiana. Their products are used in the interiors ofand Marketing Project, MI-Hemp. “Lightweight parts several lines of vehicles, which also can include plantmean less poisoning petrochemicals per mile driven.” biomass from sisal, jute, kenaf, and sometimes Swift began the group in 2008 to gather the thermoplastic polymers. They estimate their productsconcerns of agriculturalists, environmental activists and alone are used in well over a million North Americanhemp product manufacturers and distributors. vehicles.“Education is our goal. Especially about how ridiculous A recent issue of Composites Technologyit is to import auto part hemp from Canada or China noted, “Automobile Manufacturers are taking morewhen we can grow it right here and keep money in this advantage of the benefits associated with NFCs whilestate.” seeking alternatives to neat polymers, which are He adds “Michigan is missing out on a valuable becoming more expensive.”resource.” In 2004, Michigan State University released an This is backed up by reams of evidence. interesting study. This joint project between theAccording to a report released in 2000 by Nova-Institute Composite Materials and Structure Center, DepartmentGmbH (German), the 1999 automotive hemp production of Agricultural Economics, and the Department of 5
  6. 6. MI-Hemp Report 1 Hemp for the Automotive Industry Written, Designed and Researched and by Paul Pearson, MI-Hemp Communications Director. Contributors include Everett Swift, Executive Director, and special thanks go to the Detroit Public Library, the Wayne State University Kresgee/Purdy Library, the Barton Ford Educational Library, R. Wroblewski, and C. Penn. Printed with private and MI-Hemp fundsEnvironmental Engineering, compared glass fiber(GFR) and natural fiber (NFR) reinforced products Select Web Resourceson several fronts. The report, with the simple title“Are natural fiber composites environmentallysuperior to glass fiber reinforced composites?” prior studies and performed specialized edtests to develop detailed understandings ofmultiple aspects, including strength and even the cycle environmental impact from one auto side eco/ The reports unsurprising conclusions: We propose that NFR composites are likely ogy%20April%202005.pdf to be environmentally superior to GFR composites in most applications also for final%20published.pdf the following reasons: (1) natural fiber,1607,7-168--215654--,00.html production results in lower environmental impacts compared to glass fiber production; (2) NFR composites have higher fiber content for equivalent performance, which reduces the amount of more polluting base polymers; (3) lower weight of NFR composites improves fuel efficiency and reduces emissions during Select Print Resources the use phase of the component, especially in auto applications; and (4) end of life incineration of natural fibers results in Small, E. and D. Marcus. 2002. Hemp: A new crop with new energy and carbon credits. uses for North America. p. 284–326. In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.), Trends in new crops and new uses. Karus, M., M. Kaup, and D. Lohmeyer. 2000. Study on markets One reservation that remained was the use and prices for natural fibres (Germany and EU). 3rd Int. Symp.,of fertilizers for natural composites, which may Bioresource Hemp, Proc. Bioresource Hemp 2000 and otherhave “results in higher nitrate and phosphate fibre cropsemissions, which can contribute to increased Osburn, L. Energy Farming in America. Frazier Park, CA. 1989eutrophication in local water-bodies.” Conrad, C. Hemp: Lifeline to the Future. Los Angeles. 1993 After reading the report, Paul Pearson, MI- Popular Mechanics. December, 1941Hemps Communication Director asks, “Shouldntwe of course seek alternatives which utilize smalleramounts of fertilizer?” Pearson pointed out that hemp fiber filter Photo Credits: Purdue University, Henry Fordtechnology can clean post-production water, Museum & Greenfield Village/Benson Fordallowing agriculture, industrial production, and Research Center, Michigan.Gov, Lotus, Journal ofauto parts and end-product vehicle manufacturing Industrial Hempto all coexist within our new green/renewableparadigm. Michigan Industrial Hemp Education and Marketing Project. Everett Swift, Executive Director 33006 Seven Mile Rd, Suite 125, Livonia, MI, 48152 Tel: 313.622.3429, © All rights reserved. Design and Production by and