Recent research from Denmark suggests that industrial hemp may be an effective tool to make chemicals that petroleum previously produced. These new findings could make hemp the optimal crop for biorefinery technology that looks to make plants into fuels and chemicals that were previously extracted from fossil fuels.
The turn away from fossil fuels as a source of energy and raw materials would mean that scientists and engineers have already begun looking at plentiful plants to surrogate. Petroleum is not just used for gasoline and in our current day and age, it has become vital to society. With natural calamities such as oil spills as well as the shift towards tar sands, oil companies need to work much harder to obtain oil, and it is not going to get easier in the future. With tons of technology invested in extracting chemicals from petroleum, the industry is very hesitant to change methods, but times are rapidly changing.
Scientists have been looking at sundry crops to try to find the best possible way to use all of their applications; this means going even further than just using corn to make ethanol. Succinic acid has been deemed one of the most important chemicals in the industry because it goes into plastics, foods, medicines, etc. Researchers in Denmark have developed a biorefinery concept that may produce 149 kg of ethanol and 115 kg of succinic acid per ton of industrial hemp. When looking just at ethanol production, hemp produces less than corn per acre but if it can make both ethanol and succinic at the same time, it may be more profitable and reduce the chemical industry’s need for fossil fuels.
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