Potential Applications for the MG: Hemp Processing

Potential Applications for the MG: Hemp Processing

Hemp was bred from Cannabis to produce tall, sturdy plants for rope and fiber, and ample seeds for feed and oil.

The plant has been gaining favor as a cash crop worldwide because it has a short growing period, it’s fibers are more durable than cotton, it enriches the soil for subsequent crops and it offers a wide variety of potential revenue streams/commercial applications (reportedly over 25,000 uses).

Twenty nine countries spanning 6 continents currently grow hemp.

Between 2016 and 2017, hemp production in the US grew by more than 225% or 15,771 acres. That number could increase geometrically with the passage of the Hemp Farming Act.

Hoping to show benefits to large swaths of the rural US, Congress allowed states to run pilot programs to test the viability for commercial hemp production as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. Now, the Hemp Farming Act (part of the 2018 Farm Bill) is expected to legalize hemp on a federal level before the end of this year (It’s already legal in several states).

Hemp commercialization is not without problems. Processing hemp requires specialized equipment. The plant’s tall stalk consists of two parts: a soft fibrous covering and a woody interior core. The woody core makes hemp almost impossible to break down with equipment used for common grain products. Instead, a machine called a decorticator strips the soft outer fiber from core.

Hemp is also bulky and needs to be processed close to where it’s grown. If no processing plants (industrial decorticators) are nearby, the crop’s potential is limited.

“When you put fiber on a truck, when it goes any distance past 100 miles, any profit is gone,” said Cory Sharp, CEO of HempLogic, in a February 1, 2018 article on hempindustrydaily.com

That’s why industrial hemp products manufactured in Asia are also grown in Asia. It’s simply not economical to truck and ship hemp from Canada or the United States to textile manufacturers overseas.

That also explains why New York state is spending $5 million to help establish a hemp processing industry. However, with a 100 mile limitation, mobile decortication makes more sense than fixed- location processing plants.

Sharp saw the opportunity and partnered with a Colorado-based manufacturer of farm equipment, to produce a mobile decorticator. The trailer-mounted system costs about $2 million, relies on a truck for transport and incorporates a large diesel engine to power the machine. (https://tinyurl.com/y7zuj9au, https://tinyurl.com/y9dazzov)

An Australian mobile decorticator relies on a tractor’s PTO to power the machine which not only ties up a piece of equipment, it’s incredibly inefficient. (https://tinyurl.com/ycgbwl3s Go to 1:48)

In both instances, an MG could easily vastly improve the system and reduce the cost. Not to mention enable more farmers world wide to profit from growing hemp.

2018-12-20T07:31:11+00:00
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