Industrial Hemp Supply Chain Unlocks The Future of Mobility Through Lightweighting
Transportation is foundational to the human experience. Humanity has evolved from carriages, buggies, and bicycles into dozens of different types of scalable motorized activities. Cars, boats, and planes are 3 specific vehicles that have amplified our ability to connect with people from all over the world. An industrial hemp supply chain would promote a sustainable future for mobility.
Of course, cars, boats, and planes are an oversimplification of much more complicated mobility infrastructure.
- The fastest planes on the planet are fighter jets used by the US military. On a commercial level, SpaceX is launching and lands rockets on a monthly basis.
- Tens of thousands of ships on the planet are moving goods, while US battleships create the standard for global marine transportation.
- Performance cars down the street from you are doing 0-60 in just over 2 seconds.
These advanced types of performance vehicles all have one thing in common. They are all heavy vehicles with big engines that need lots of horsepowers.
Lightweighting has become the cornerstone of mobility capabilities.
- Lighter cars can accelerate faster.
- Lighter cars can go further.
- Lighter cars can turn smoother.
- Lighter cars can carry more weight.
- Lighter cars get increased miles per gallon.
The lightweighting movement is not just driving the automotive industry. It is driving anything and everything with engines, wheels, or wings.
We’re experiencing an amazing inflection point in the world today where material science has met scalable agricultural supply chains. Similar to how solar costs recently became the least expensive energy source, natural materials have become less expensive than synthetic & mineral alternatives.
Material science has proven that hemp fibers and hemp hurds are valuable alternatives for the additives that are being used in plastics every day.
Hemp Hurds Replacing Mineral Fillers in Plastics
- Talc – which is known to have asbestos (a carcinogenic).
- Calcium Carbonate – is known to have crystalline silica (a carcinogenic).
Hemp Fibers Replacing Synthetic Reinforcements in Plastics
- Glass Fibers – which are known to irritate any and every part of the human body.
- Carbon Fibers – require 20-40 pounds of CO2 to produce.
These are just a handful of the dozens of additives used in manufacturing that are toxic to both humans and the surrounding environment.
The implications of successful implementation of hemp-based additives to replace the additives that are already used will be the most groundbreaking opportunity within materials science in the past 100 years.
For example, let’s use one filler and one reinforcement agent.
We will compare:
- Fillers: Talc vs Hemp Hurds
- Reinforcement Agents: Glass Fibers vs Hemp Fibers
This will give us a good framework of understanding of how hemp can impact parts of vehicles that are already being produced.
Talc vs Hemp Hurd – Weight
This one statistic has massive implications for all modes of transportation.
Busses, trains, and RV’s will be lighter. This means that they will use less energy to go the same distance.
Bicycles, 4 wheelers, and motorcycles will accelerate faster and go for longer.
Surfboards, snowboards, and skis will be optimized for peak performance.
Every mode of transportation on the planet will benefit from the lightweighting movement.
The bigger the vehicle, the more important lightweighting becomes.
- Lighter planes get increased miles per gallon.
- Lighter planes can carry more cargo.
- Lighter planes can fly faster.
- Lighter planes can go further.
- Lighter planes can accelerate faster.
This all results in massive savings for airline companies.
- Reduction in use of fuel.
- Reduction of the price of composites used during manufacturing.
- Increase in the strength in the end parts.
- Reduction in the company’s overall carbon footprint.
Glass Fiber vs Hemp Fiber
For the first time in the history of humankind, we have the opportunity to increase the strength of today’s vehicles while reducing both the weight and cost. The ripple effect this will create will extend beyond industries and continents.
Although this shift will be big, it will take some time. As with many industries, industrial hemp will crawl, walk, then run into the futures of many use cases and applications.
Here’s the opportunity hemp has to impact mobility today.
Market Penetration Strategy = Non-Structural
The easiest parts to start with replacing today are nonstructural in cars, planes, and boats. If you look at the interior of any of these vehicles, you will find components that are unnecessarily heavy.
These heavy objects add up and make the engine work harder to move the object the same amount of distance. It’s all a math problem. If we make those random objects lighter, now the same vehicle has unlocked more capabilities.
Most of these objects that are non-structural on boats can be made from plastics (polymers) with additives. The additives currently used in the marketplace are dense and heavy. This is the perfect opportunity for hemp-based additives to provide volume, strength, and weight benefits.
Market Growth Strategy = Structural
As the data on the strengths of commercially available hemp supply chains become more readily available, companies will be able to start replacing structural parts. This, of course, can only happen once two things are certain:
- There is a proven formula for hemp + polymer = stronger than other materials.
- The hemp supply chain has been proven to be reliable.
Once there is a proven formula using hemp that is stronger than materials like aluminum, titanium, and steel, engineers can start testing in R&D labs across the world.
Once the data is in, the floodgates will open.
Fortunately, we already know that hemp has higher tensile strengths than aluminum and steel when compounded with different all different types of polymers. This has already been proven by 3rd parties across industry and academia.
What we are working on now is a replicable formula that shows that hemp-based additives are superior to the products they replace.
This data will lay the foundation for companies that use plastic in structural and non-structural applications.
Mobility is just the first step in a revolution in sustainable materials that make markets move.