Everything You Need to Know About Hemp Biomass
Posted on October 9th, 2020
What do farmers do to the leaves and stalks of hemp plants after separating the seeds and flowers? Do they throw them away as waste material? No, they don’t. They consider this material as hemp biomass which makes fuel, medicine, fiber, and cloth. A successful production season of hemp is crucial to maintain the quality of these goods. Thus, it is safe to say that hemp production has 0% waste rate.
Types of Hemp Biomass
There are two types of biomass produced from industrial hemp. The first one involves biomass from CBD production. This biomass comes after harvesting the flowers from the hemp plant. Farmers categorize CBD biomass into different grades depending on their qualities. They sell CBD biomass by the pound to companies and CBD extractors. This type of biomass gets hand-shucked and tested thoroughly.
The second type of hemp biomass comes from organic materials of hemp plants. Widely popular as hemp fiber biomass, this is the material left after completely processing hemp flowers. It consists of stalks and leaves that could serve as a fuel or medicine later on.
CBD biomass is costlier than hemp fiber biomass. The latter is useful for producing fuel and fiber while the former helps to make medicines. Let’s take a deeper look at these types of hemp biomass.
Things to Know About CBD Hemp Biomass
CBD product manufacturers only use the hemp flower. They send these flowers into their processing facility to extract CBD from thousands of raw hemp flowers. The 2018 Farm Bill opened doors for hemp farmers to enter the CBD market because of its widespread popularity. Biomass from CBD harvests are cash crops for these farmers.
Hundreds of farmers are getting rich by selling CBD biomass to companies involved in the extraction and processing of hemp. This means they not only earn by selling the flowers but also the remains of the hemp plant.
Things to Know About Hemp Fiber Biomass
Hemp fiber biomass is different from hemp flower biomass. The former consists only of leaves and stalks from the hemp plant. When it comes to profitability, hemp fiber biomass falls short of CBD biomass but it’s helpful in the long-term. How? You can use hemp fiber biomass to manufacture textiles, paper, and even concrete reinforcements.
In fact, with bioenergy now gaining popularity, hemp fiber biomass is an essential ingredient in making fuel. Thus, it helps reduce the need to burn fossil fuels and deplete the Earth’s natural resources.
Harvesting Hemp Biomass
Here are the things you will need to harvest CBD biomass:
- Scythe, machete, or shears
- Transportation vehicle
- Storage location
- Drying location
- Processing equipment like oil press and container
Harvesting Hemp Fiber Biomass:
- Scythe, machete, or shears
- Transportation vehicle
- Storage location
- Retting location
- Decorticator, such as fiber extraction machine
Harvesting hemp biomass depends on how you plan your annual hemp production. Hemp harvest in North America usually starts in later summer and early fall. Timing is crucial for hemp production and you need to keep it away from the wildfire season in the Pacific and hurricanes in the Atlantic.
You should also keep an eye on the size of your harvest and the number of farmers working on the field. If the farmers cannot handle the production of the entire field, it may lead to the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew in the crops. This would not only disrupt the hemp quality but also make the biomass go to waste.
Drying Hemp Biomass
Moisture in hemp biomass can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. The moment you get a bulk of hemp biomass, make sure you dry it immediately. Most farmers hang the biomass upside down just like traditional tobacco. But experts think this isn’t a scientific method as moisture may build up at the center of the plant. Instead, farmers should snip each brand from the plant and then hand them individually. This not only helps in quick drying but also reduces the loss in production of hemp biomass.
Some farmers wedge the branch or stalk of the plant on clamps or traditional drying wires. These wires get adequate airflow that dries the biomass within 3 to 5 days.
Uses of Hemp Biomass
For many years, researchers have tried to find out how hemp biomass can help people further. Now, you see hemp biomass used in various products, such as hemp fuel, food, hemp fiber, and hemp oil. Whether it is for biofuel, the medical sector, or the food industry, hemp biomass has made its way into almost every aspect of human life. Here are some of the uses of hemp biomass that everyone should know about:
Hurds or shrives are the middle parts of the hemp plant. When you take out the hemp flowers, you just leave the stalk and leaves behind. The middle part consists of a carbohydrate called cellulose. This is the strongest part of the hemp biomass that helps in the production of hemp paper. You can make various items like packaging material and hempcrete.
In addition to paper, hempcrete, and packaging material, you can use hurds to make hemp plastic. This type of plastic is so hard that car manufacturers use them to make auto parts. In fact, some of the ancient Asian communities also used hurds to make parts of their ships.
Hemp fiber production is now gaining popularity because of the availability of hemp biomass. If you go back to the history of Asian communities, you will see people using hemp fiber to make ropes for their ships and boats. Hemp fiber has water-resistant properties. That means you can tie any part of the boat with these ropes without any risk of growing molds or getting damaged over time.
Most importantly, the strength and durability of hemp fiber make it an excellent choice for making ropes. Do you know that this type of fiber has twice the strength of wood? Imagine how strongly it would hold down boxes if you tie them using ropes made from hemp fiber.
Moreover, the fiber is biodegradable, making it environmentally-friendly. Some more items that people make from hemp fiber are hemp carpets, hemp insulation, and fabrics.
Retting is the best process to derive hemp fiber. You need to soak the biomass in water to allow the cellular membrane to swell. This helps to separate the fiber easily. Farmers use two methods in retting:
- Natural water retting – It involves immersing the hemp stalks in water sources, such as pond, river, or stream. Farmers secure the bundles of hemp stalk at the bottom of the water with a weight so that they don’t flow when the high-tide comes. This process usually takes 8 to 14 days.
- Tank retting – This involves immersing the hemp stalks in a container for 4 to 8 days. Since this has a controlled environment, it takes less time to separate the fiber.
There is no denying that hemp has tons of health benefits. From treating anxiety disorders to reducing your body weight, you can use hemp for a variety of health reasons. But how does the biomass contribute to medicine? For example, manufacturers are using CBD biomass for extracting CBD oil. Hemp flowers are not the only sources from where manufacturers extract CBD oil from. They also purchase CBD biomass in huge quantities to draw highly potent and concentrated CBD oil.
Different people use CBD biomass for different purposes. While many people use it to extract hemp oil for medicines, others use it to make edible gummies and also in beauty products like skincare cream.
It may come as a surprise but you may find hemp tea in the market. This is nothing but the dried stalks and leaves, packaged into tea filter bags. They are very helpful in inducing sleep. A cup of hemp tea at night can help you sleep peacefully.
Hemp biomass is now one of the biggest sources of biofuel. But many people in different parts of the world still don’t know about this. Therefore, a significant portion of the biomass still remains unexploited. On the other hand, many people are now deriving auto fuel from the biomass and converting it into ethanol or methanol. This ensures that you don’t use fossil fuels and reduce the Earth’s natural resources.
Also, unlike fossil fuel, hemp fuel doesn’t produce any greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide. Additionally, you can use hemp seed oil to make gasoline.
It is best to use biological digestion or chemical decomposition to convert hemp biomass into fuel. During this process, farmers gather tons of biomass in a chamber and transform them into carbon nanomaterial. This carbon nanomaterial replaces the use of graphene in supercapacitors and high-power batteries. You can find supercapacitors in many items. From fast-charging batteries, such as in vehicle braking systems, and even in mobile phones.
As already mentioned, hemp has zero waste. You can make the most of the flowers, leaves, and stalks if you know the different processes of how to use them.
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