Did you know that hemp and the steel industry have a strong relation, in terms of the future! We’ll explain it all in this guide.
Hemp was used to manufacturing almost 80% of goods consumed by people in the US until 1833 when it was banned from cultivation and usage under the threat of abuse as a dangerous drug. However, recent research has brought hemp to the forefront of discussion, as one of the most beneficial plants for humans and our whole environment.
Hemp can be a life-saver harvest crop even more at this dire hour of severe environmental pollution and climate change. The plant has incredible environment-friendly characteristics, the greatest being it is 100% biodegradable, which means anything we process and use from hemp can be recycled, renewed, reused multiple times. And when it is in the waste, it degrades into the environment very quickly. Many environmentalists claim that hemp decreases the impact of global warming by reducing carbon monoxide levels from the air.
Now imagine this plant as the crop that can be used to manufacture a wide array of products we use in our daily lives, and even on an industrial scale to make essential items like materials for building, house live-saving medicines, oil, paper, clothing, linen, etc.
Hemp And The Steel Industry – Basics
Studies and recent research portray hemp as a miracle crop that can often be used as a brilliant alternative to steel. It can be widely sown and cultivated on an industrial level to manufacture multiple products.
Many parts of a car that are manufactured from plastics and steel can be entirely replaced by hemp, which is, even more, stronger and long-lasting than traditional plastic or steel.
Likewise, many parts and units manufactured from steel for making several products, for example, of a car, can be replaced using hemp. Yes, hemp is indeed stronger than steel.
How Is Hemp Stronger Than Steel?
Two primary methods are followed while measuring strength. One is by measuring the withstanding power of an object to crack and break, and another way is bending and mending.
The first involves the application of some pressure to crack a substance and eventually increase the pressure to break it. So, ultimately the object first cracks and then breaks.
The second method observes objects that do not crack but can be bent and finally broken. This too involves putting a lot of pressure on the object. The pressure will, however, not crack the object but bend its shape.
- When both these methods are applied on hemp, it takes twice the amount of pressure to crack it and or break it than it takes for steel. It can also be mended, meaning, it can regain its shape back even after several times of pressure application.
- Hemp can also bend and mend (return to its former shape) six times more than steel. This is not to say that it is difficult to bend the hemp plant as compared to steel. It only means that the fibers of hemp have more strength to weight ratio than that of steel.
- Hemp is also far cheaper to manufacture than it takes to produce steel.
- The plastic hemp car made by Henry Ford in 1941 is a much-famed car that was ten times stronger than steel, even though only a small part of it was actually made of hemp. Henry Ford introduced this car to the market to help the local American farmers during the time of the Great Depression.
He realized that cars never went out of fashion and to be able to make a car and all its parts directly from nature would be a blessing for all, especially the farmers.
Hemp and The Steel Industry – Some Important Properties
While the steel industry is most important in the production of more substantial items and electrical tools and items, many efficient alternatives for steel have also been discovered throughout the years. Hemp, owing to its unique qualities of replacing steel into producing materials of the same variety more efficiently, has been a subject of study for some time. The studies show promising and impressive qualities of the plant that can be tapped to manufacture several items monopolized erstwhile by the steel industry.
As early as 1958, Roger Bacon discovered graphite ‘whiskers’ which had three times more stiffness than steel and ten times its tensile strength. These whiskers were eventually made into what we commonly knew as carbon fibers. Research has recently shown hemp fibers possessing even more tensile strength than these carbon fibers.
Another discovery made in 2004 by the Science journal, gave us the graphene, which is a form of carbon as a sheet but its thickness is only that of an atom. Graphene is considered one hundred times stronger than steel, and it also conducts electricity more efficiently than copper. Only 1% of graphene combined into plastics can produce conductivity.
Hemp has been found to mimic many qualities of graphene. Graphene is mostly used for super energy batteries and vehicles like electric cars, but it is costly to manufacture. Hemp, on the other hand, has almost as much energy storage capacity as graphene, but can be produced at a far cheaper cost.
A Short Conclusion on Hemp and The Steel Industry
While millions are spent in researching and discovering alternative super-materials, a humble plant possessing all the great qualities of multiple objects is present right amongst us. Once the stigma of the marijuana that causes a high and can be abused is disassociated from hemp that hardly possesses any THC, the cultivation and manufacturing of hemp-derived products will be popularised.
The qualities of hemp are many. It is easy to grow and very inexpensive to produce. It is 100 % biodegradable and can be used to manufacture thousands of goods, therefore significantly profitable for industries and economies of developing countries. Hence, many reformatory laws are being made, and changes enforced across the world in several countries regarding the cultivation of hemp on an industrial scale.
It is about time to make wise choices in the products we manufacture, use, and create a waste out of. The varied benefits of growing the plant for environmental sustainability makes it an even more viable plant.