Hurd Milled Presents Uncessesary Challenges For Compounders
What is hurd milled into a powder and what are the benefits and challenges?
The hemp stalk can be separated into two parts. The fiber is used as a reinforcement agent and the hurd can be used as a filler. These fillers can be milled to meet specifications, but do not provide any performance benefits.
Hemp fiber is a low-cost alternative to traditional materials used throughout manufacturing, including talc, calcium carbonate, and glass fiber in plastic, carbon black in rubber, and other minerals in construction. The most important cost reduction opportunity is driven by the distance of your processor to your facility.
In addition to their strength advantages, hemp fibers are also celebrated for their eco-friendly nature. Hemp is a highly sustainable crop that requires minimal pesticides and herbicides. It grows rapidly, has a high yield per acre, and its cultivation helps improve soil health. Choosing hemp fibers over synthetic materials can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to production.
It is important to work with an industrial hemp supplier that has an LCA on their products. This will enable your business to make public claims about your hard work decarbonizing products.
How It Is Processed
Different processing methods to separate the fiber and the hurd from the hemp stalk can cause downstream performance problems in different composite materials, including plastic, rubber, and construction products. It is important to understand what methods your processors are using and to avoid decortication for use cases that are not textiles.
Handling & Processing
Hemp fibers have a relatively low density, meaning they occupy a larger volume compared to their mass. This bulkiness can make it challenging to handle and feed the fibers smoothly into equipment such as conveyors, hoppers, or processing machinery. The poor flowability of hemp fibers can result in bridging, clogging, or uneven feeding, leading to interruptions in the production process.
Due to their low density and inherent interlocking nature, hemp fibers can have a tendency to entangle or form clumps during handling and feeding processes. This can further exacerbate the feeding challenges by causing blockages, uneven distribution, or uneven processing of the fibers.
Fire & Dust Concerns
During processing or handling, hemp fibers can generate dust particles, which may pose inhalation risks or potential irritants to the eyes, nose, and throat. This is particularly relevant in industrial settings where large quantities of hemp fibers are processed or manipulated. To minimize dust-related issues, proper ventilation, dust control measures, and personal protective equipment (such as masks and goggles) should be employed where necessary. Like other natural fibers, hemp fibers can burn when exposed to an open flame or high heat. The flammability of hemp fibers can be influenced by factors such as fiber density, moisture content, and chemical treatments.
As hemp fibers occupy a larger volume relative to their weight, it can result in higher shipping costs compared to denser materials. The transportation cost per unit of volume may be higher, leading to potential cost challenges, especially for long-distance or bulk shipments.
Unfunctionalized hemp fibers require special handling and packaging considerations due to their low density. Proper packaging, such as compressed bales or containers, can help reduce volume and optimize transportation efficiency. However, additional equipment or labor may be needed for effective handling and packaging, which can contribute to overall logistics costs.
What Makes One Hemp Product Different Than Another?
Different Genetics of the Hemp Fiber
The strength of hemp fibers is a crucial performance factor. Different hemp genetics can result in varying tensile strength, impacting their ability to withstand stretching and pulling forces. Stronger fibers are desirable in applications where durability is critical, such as in industrial textiles, construction materials, and automotive components.
Cost-Effective Processing Methods
The standard method to process hemp fiber today is by decorticating the stalk. This process is known to be slow and expensive, potentially damaging the fibers and hurd. Newer methods have become available that can process the stalk more effectively at much faster rates, reducing costs. These methods are utilized by Heartland before their functionalization process.
Hemp Fiber Functionalization
Hemp fiber bonds with hemp fiber really well. When you look to bond hemp fiber to a new product, it has a much harder time staying together. It is important that the hemp fiber you’re purchasing is functionalized for your use case. This is a specified process done by a few hemp fiber processors and distributors for their customers. Unfunctionalized fiber may cause failure in different products.
Hemp fiber is extremely lightweight and low-cost. For the same reason you do not ship plastic or concrete far distances, you do not want to ship hemp fiber far distances. It is important to work with a supplier that intends to operate locally to your operations.
Determining The Best Hemp Fiber For You.
Functionalized For Your Process
Developing a hemp fiber that is easy to handle and process, has been treated to prevent flammability and dust concerns, and will bond with your product is a challenge. Heartland’s imperium masterbatch product is designed to solve all of the standard challenges associated with hemp fiber from distributors or the spot market.
Distance To Your Facility
Understanding your hemp fiber producers’ long-term vision for farming, processing, and distributing their hemp is important. The Heartland team is focused on a local farming empowering local manufacturing model, which intends to place production within 150 miles of our customer’s facilities. This will reduce costs and provide a sustainable supply of materials.
Supplier With Scale
Farming is a fractured business. It is essential to be working with a producer that intends to match your global scale, providing you with materials in any region of the world as you grow your business.
Heartland’s Approach to the Industrial Hemp Supply Chain
Heartland’s hemp-based materials can make hundreds of different types of manufactured products stronger, lighter, cheaper, and more sustainable. Even though we have many R&D projects rolling in various industries, the perfect prototype project was plastics, and we’re gaining serious ground.
Imperium fillers consistently outperform competitive hemp fiber in a 1:1 study. Heartland has a simple approach to processing that improves tensile strength and impact, while other materials can only accommodate one of these metrics. The imperium product line has been functionalized to bond with a wide range of mineral and synthetic product lines.
Cost reduction can be done by optimizing a few key aspects: direct access to the producers, improved processing of fibers, and proximity to the farm. All of these factors add pennies to the cost and can determine the viability of hemp fiber.
Heartland has developed unique farming models that reduce production costs by upwards of 50% for hemp fiber. This model enables a robust farming infrastructure that will support our customers in North America, Europe, and Asia between now and 2025.
Our model has been developed to have our facilities within 150 miles of our customer’s manufacturing, eliminating costly logistics associated with natural fibers.
Supporting global manufacturing requires a local supply of hemp fiber. It is essential for our growth model that we can produce hemp fiber within 150 miles of our customers, reducing logistics and product costs while improving sustainability.
A More Focused Approach to Farming Imperium Masterbatch
By focusing on understanding our customers better, we will build a more reliable industrial hemp supply chain that focuses on solving problems for those businesses who are actively looking for alternatives – and that number increases daily!
A properly executed industrial hemp processing facility requires Big-Ag infrastructure. This includes:
- Large farming partnerships (10,000+ acres).
- Large processing capacities (10,000,000+ pounds of hemp per month).
- A customer base that has demand for hundreds of millions of pounds.
This is the only way to create a stable supply chain that farmers, investors, and manufacturers can trust. At the end of the day, the only way that hemp is valuable to a manufacturer is if it can be applied in mass manufacturing with a reliable, efficient, and consistent product. Our Imperium products hit those targets.
Just a few years ago, most farmers who had committed to industrial hemp were growing small batches (dozens or hundreds of acres tops). The lack of supply did not allow companies to use hemp-based materials regularly. Today, Heartland is leading the charge with thousands of acres (in Michigan alone) and we will represent 15% of industrial hemp in the United States!
Join us in creating a carbon negative future!