INDUSTRIAL HEMP FIBER
The fiber is beneficial in textile, construction, and plastics industries, among others.
Upon harvest, farmers bale stalk which is decorticated (separation) at a nearby processing facility. The process separates the exterior bast fiber from the interior core. A different process patented by PureVision Technologies, uses a Continuous Countercurrent Reactor to separate the lignin from the core.
The bast fibers are long fibers useful in woven and non-woven applications like textiles, insulation, automotive components and other composite materials. Pressed on a matting line, injection molding can form the fibers into whatever the mold is, making automotive components, tables, chairs, plastics, bicycles and so much more!
Conversely, the core is a lower quality fiber. It is useful as animal bedding, pulp paper, or as a high-insulation building material in hempcrete.
The long, retted fibers create hemp textiles. These are mostly made in China and Europe. The textile materials can have a blend with other materials like cotton, silk and fleece. The hemp fibers have a natural UV-protection which make them ideal for clothing as there is no need for an added UV-protection.
Biocomposites are natural composite materials injected with resin to form a molded component. Normally, manufacturing facilities desire the bast fibers for biocomposites because of the length and strength of the fiber. At this stage in industry growth, composites are most commonly in the automotive sector. In fact BMW’s i3 electric car uses hemp in its interior! The interior composites allow for enhanced acoustics and the composites’ lightweight sheds overall vehicle weight leading to fewer emissions at the pipe.
Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures and Manitoba’s Composite Innovation Centre (CIC) are beta testing hemp composites. The CIC is testing vehicle components like tractor hoods, interior panels, and motorcycle gas tanks but progress is necessary to truly compete in markets.
The woody core, short fibers, and bast fibers can be used to make various building materials. The biggest benefits of building with hemp are the high insulation values retained over the lifespan of the building, low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fire retardants, and mildew/mold retardents. A mixture of the bast and short fibers serve as natural insulation alternative to fiberglass. The woody core is a beneficial filler for concrete blocks and monolithic structures. Builders often mix the woody core with hydraulic lime, hydrated lime and water to form a mix referred to as hempcrete. The hempcrete is mixed often mixed onsite and compressed between removable formwork. The hempcrete mix retains high insulation values but minimal compression strength. This makes a timber-frame necessary for the structure to have load-bearing capacity. Other building options similar to hempcrete are manufactured hemp blocks and pre-fabricated hempcrete panels.
The lignin is found in the woody core of the stalk. Colorado-based company, PureVision Technologies’ patented Continuous Countercurrent Reactor process extracte the lignin out of the hemp stalks. This lignin can is a precursor for manufacturing bioplastics.
Paper– short fibers
Supercapacitors (graphene substitute)– short fibers or bast fibers
Filtration systems– bast fibers