Hemp Car To Make Record 10,000-mile Trip

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Apr 20, 2001.

  1. By Charles Choi, UPI Science Writer
    Source: United Press International

    A hemp-fueled car scheduled to begin a record-breaking 10,000-mile trip around North America July 4 debuted Thursday in Washington at a conference devoted primarily to legalizing marijuana.
    The car is a white, modified 1983 Mercedes diesel station wagon festooned with colorful hemp-related logos and the Virginia license plate "HEMPCAR." It is the creation of Grayson and Kellie Sigler, who plan to use roughly 400 gallons of hemp biodiesel during their trip. The trip will take the Siglers through 40 cities over three months, to the West Coast and then back east through Canada.

    The drive should set a world distance record for a vehicle using hemp for fuel. Hemp oil converts into a biodiesel fuel fairly simply once mixed with caustic lye dissolved in methanol, a technique which makes the oil less viscous and more combustible.

    "Hemp oil can be burned directly, but this is much cleaner," explained environmental defense attorney Don Wirtshafter, proprietor of the Ohio Hempery, the Athens,Ohio-based company providing the oil. "You get fuel and glycerine from the process, and the glycerine can be used to make soap or candles. We like to use potassium hydroxide as the caustic agent, because it results in a beautiful fertilizer."

    Biodiesels can be made from any vegetable oil or animal fat and burn in any unmodified diesel engine. The only modification made to the hemp car was the replacement of rubber hoses with synthetic rubber tubes -- biodiesels erode rubber.

    "Hemp oil has the same energy as diesel," Wirtshafter said. "Whatever your car does on diesel, it'll do on hemp. It's even possible to process hemp for a gasoline engine, but it's more complex."

    When asked why one should use hemp for fuel, Wirtshafter responded, "What humanity is doing on a massive scale right now is pulling carbon out of the ground in the form of fossil fuels and spewing it out as carbon dioxide gas, adding to global warming. Biofuels, hemp included, give us the chance to grow our fuel, thereby living off the energy from the sun rather than spending our 'savings bank' of hydrocarbons. At the same time, like all plants, hemp would absorb carbon dioxide as a natural life process."

    Hemp is legal in some 30 countries, including all of Europe, Canada and China. As a crop, its fiber yields textiles such as paper, cloth and rope, while its oil is used for paint, varnish, lubricants and highly nutritious food. Cultivating hemp has been illegal in the United States since 1937, because marijuana is made from hemp's flowers, buds and leaves. This ban was briefly suspended during World War II, when the United States could not import hemp fiber from the Far East for use in rope.

    Hemp legalization advocates argue that the plant is ideal for biofuel use. "It yields about four times more seed oil than soybeans," Greyson Sigler said. "It grows widely in all climates with little fertilizer or pesticides needed than most crops. It's cheap, drought-resistant and very easy to cultivate. Hemp is, in my opinion, the world's most prodigious renewable resource. It could help California out with its power problems and keep the U.S. from drilling for oil in Alaska."

    Sigler added that biodiesel releases 80 percent less emissions on average than gas.

    "There are no sulfur byproducts, although there are slightly increased nitrogen oxide emission, most of which can be tuned out," he said. Sulfur and nitrogen oxides are pollutants and common byproducts of combustion.

    While the conference at which the hemp car debuted was more focused on legalizing marijuana for responsible adult recreational use, the meeting's director, Allen St. Pierre, stressed the hemp legalization debate should expand to include the plant's industrial applications.

    "It's just so hard to get beyond the giggle, the public trivialization of this," said St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "We call it the 'rope vs. dope debate.'"

    "But I have great faith that the pragmatism of big oil companies will move legalization forward," he added. "You'll start to see a cultural eraser -- it's not the hippies in the park that are asking for it to be legal, but people who will note at least six or seven of the founding fathers were prolific hemp growers, including Jefferson and Washington."

    The hemp oil used for the record-setting trip comes from Canada. Though hemp oil currently costs some $50 per gallon, Wirtshafter hopes legalization could drive the cost down in the United States to as low as pennies per gallon. "We're not going to be economical until we're able to produce hemp oil without our handcuffs on," he said.

    The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws gave $1,000 to subsidize the hemp car and may sponsor more funds in the coming months. "We were very impressed. We thought they were very well-versed and serious-minded. They weren't full of hyperbole, and they weren't naïve -- they knew this was going to be difficult."

    The Sigler's car is not the first hemp-fueled vehicle. In fact, Gatewood Galbraith, who ran for governor of Kentucky in 1991 on a pro-hemp platform, drove around in a retrofitted Mercedes Benz during his election campaign.

    The Siglers expect to get a warm reception during their trip. "Most people are really happy about it," Grayson Sigler said. "We got truckers blowing their horns and people flashing their lights on the way here. We even ran into some police officers who think it's fun."

    St. Pierre noted that the only distinctive side effect bystanders may experience from the car is "a funky odor. Most people who are familiar with the smell of burning seeds of marijuana will sniff and say, 'Hey, it's an odd smell.'"

    Note: Hemp car to make record 10,000-mile trip.

    Source: United Press International
    Author: Charles Choi, UPI Science Writer
    Published: Thursday, April 19, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 United Press International
    Website: http://www.upi.com/

    Related Article & Web Sites:

    HempCar http://www.hempcar.org/

    NORML http://www.norml.org/

    The Ohio Hempery http://www.hempery.com/
  2. That fucking kicks ass!
  3. I've always wondered whether the exhaust would smell like marijuana in any way. Now THAT would be cool. A definite car for Hash Bash :D .

    This is just one of the areas where hemp legalization would BENEFIT mankind.

    Of course, even though we don't use it now to any great extent in the USA, its always nice to know that we CAN count on it in the future when the dino juice runs out (or we finally become tired of having our noses up OPEC's ass).
  4. buh bump?
    idk thought it was pretty cool and im high so yeah
  5. Wow. Thats Just exciting.

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