Global environmental challenges
Hemp car sparks a buzz
The compact four-passenger car, with its body made of hemp bio-composite, will have a top speed of 55 miles per hour and a range of 25 to 100 miles before needing to be recharged, depending on the battery, CBC News reported.
Calgary-based developer Motive Industries Inc. said hemp achieves the same mechanical properties as glass composite without the weight, an important goal when designing the body of a battery-powered vehicle.
“Didn’t Cheech and Chong already try this?” wrote one observer on Slashdot.org.
“Model THC?” quipped another.
Hemp is a natural fiber product of the Cannabis sativa plant and is comparable to cotton as a fiber. It is bred differently from the Cannabis indica plant that produces marijuana, which is outlawed under the U.S. Controlled Substance Act.
“It’s illegal to grow it in the U.S., so it actually gives Canada a bit of a market advantage,” Nathan Armstrong, president of Motive Industries told the CBC.
Industrial farming of hemp is practiced in 30 countries including Canada, France, England, Germany, Australia and Russia but cultivation is illegal in the U.S.
Last year, an Ontario company secured $1.8 million from investors to open the first North American bio-processing plant for industrial hemp, The Canadian Press reported.
Hemp for the Kestrel is supplied by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, a Crown corporation in the western Canadian province that purchases its cannabis from an industrial hemp farm in Vegreville, Alberta.
The vehicle is slated for prototype and testing later this month.
It’s not the first attempt to make a care using hemp, once an abundant fiber crop in the U.S.
In 2008, Lotus released its solar-powered car made from hemp.
In 1941, Henry Ford attempted that very feat, documented in this YouTube video:
Top image shows an undated promotional photo of the Motive Kestrel. REUTERS/Handout