Researchers at the university will plant their second hemp crop and continue studying the plant’s potential as a source for renewable biofuel.
University of Louisville’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research has announced that it is planting its second hemp crop to continue its study on the plant’s use as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels. The center first grew its first crop, which yielded a few dozen pounds of plants, last August.
This year, the center will grow two different varieties of the hemp. Hemp, which has been cultivated for centuries for its oil, fibers and seeds, is a variety of the Cannabis sativa L plant species. Unlike marijuana, hemp contains just 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that causes a psychoactive effect. The plant grows tall and hardy and the entire plant, including its stalks, seeds, and flowers, can be used for various products. The scientists at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research are investigating its use as an environmentally friendly fuel source.
“We’re unique in the fact that we’re undertaking research on hemp that’s converted to solve particular energy problems,” said assistant director Andrew Marsh. “There are well-defined markets for fiber and other kind of traditional uses of hemp, including its oils. And what we’re doing is taking a very specific direction that corresponds to our research center’s mission, which is to find the answers for particular applications that we have to do with renewable energy.”
Kentucky is the nation’s leading industrial hemp producer. Since the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill, states have been able to pass legislation allowing the cultivation of hemp for research or pilot purposes. Thirty states have so far done so, but Kentucky clearly leads the way. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has already approved 209 applications to grow over 12,000 acres of the crop for research this year.
“The research that we’re doing in particular for biofuels and biomass conversion centers around catalyst research, so conversion of oils into chemicals and fuels, as well as converting plant matter into valuable resources, extracting sugars and doing lignocellulosic separations,” said Marsh.
In addition to its research efforts, the Conn Center is also using its hemp planting to educate the public on the uses for and benefits of hemp.
“Having the crops grow on campus actually raises awareness about the research that we have going on at Conn Center,” said Marsh.
One such purpose for hemp lies with its natural abundance in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound that has demonstrated through over 23,000 studies to interact with our naturally occurring systems. CBD hemp oil can be taken directly or infused into other nutritional supplement products, including tinctures, liquids, and capsules.
The CBD hemp oil products from Medical Marijuana, Inc. are derived from unique cultivars of hemp that naturally contain higher levels of CBD. CBD hemp oil products are legal in all 50 U.S. states and in over 40 countries.