Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hemp Tries to Replace Coal in Canadian Trials

The LaFarge Bath Cement plant is attempting to replace coal with biomass the energy-intensive process of making cement. Potential savings and sourcing advantages could be significant, once the system is worked out. Hemp is a likely biomass species for coal replaciment (or co-firing), with a very rapid rate of growth.
“I added no chemicals after planting and that’s one of the biggest savings right there,” he added.

One other positive impact of hemp is that it breaks the disease cycle of other crops, as it is added into a crop rotation, according to Gellatly.

Industrial hemp has been used for centuries for fine fibres, sail cloth, and rope. Some of the hemp Hart was harvesting was up to eight feet tall. Because of the length and strength of the fibres harvesting hemp is a special challenge, and Larry Palmateer of Tweed was brought in by Hart.

This hemp is destined for a furnace, so the strands were not preserved. Instead a special double ‘conditioning’ system on a disc-bine, notches the stalks at one inch intervals to aid in the drying.

“It’s the best machine we’ve found for hay and it helps condition it,” said Palmateer.

The mower is specialized to hemp because a normal mower would get gummed up by the long tough fibres. _Bioenergy
It may take a few more seasons to perfect the art, but hemp intercropping may do well somewhere in North America. Torrefied biomass cofires well with coal -- with proper adjustments.

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