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An October 2019 study entitled "Assessment of the Possibility of Using Hemp Biomass (Cannabis Sativa L.) for Energy Purposes: A Case Study" that was published in the journal Applied Sciences explored "the possibility of using hemp biomass for energy purposes."
The research reported that it assessed the "physical and chemical properties of hemp biomass, as well as the combustion process of straw and briquettes made of it in a low-power boiler," comparing its results with "currently applicable standards." The study's authors noted that the chemical properties of hemp biomass are comparable to "the best plants used for energy purposes."
"Growing hemp is not difficult and requires little or often no biocides for cultivation because this plant effectively suppresses weeds and has limited requirements for the fertilizers."
The study reported that previous scientific investigations have demonstrated "the susceptibility of hemp biomass compaction" and that it detected "large emissions recorded during the combustion of the tested forms of biofuels from hemp straw." The scientists reported that these emissions "disqualify this fuel for use in grate-type heating devices with air fed under the grate," but that pellets might be a viable form of hemp biomass energy and that such a solution warrants further research.
"Growing hemp is not difficult and requires little or often no biocides for cultivation because this plant effectively suppresses weeds and has limited requirements for the fertilizers used and crop rotation," reported the study. However, it also noted that "the main problem may be establishing a crop because hemp is very sensitive to poor soil structure and water shortage or excess during the early stages of growth."
"During the tests, the possibility of using hemp biomass for energy purposes was assessed. The criteria assessed were the physical and chemical properties of hemp biomass, as well as the combustion process in a low-power boiler, of straw and briquettes made of it. A review of the literature, as well as research results, indicate that hemp biomass is an interesting and valuable energy resource.
"Hemp biomass is an interesting and valuable energy resource."
"The energy potential that lies in the area of the Lublin region that can be cultivated is around 1.7 PJ. Technical and chemical properties of hemp biomass are comparable with the best plants used for energy purposes. There are important parameters, such as the content of volatile matter, at the level of 69%, relatively high heat of combustion, with an average value of 18.089 MJ·kg−1, comparable with that for oak wood, and low ash content at the level of 2.5%.
"Research has also shown the susceptibility of hemp biomass to compaction, which resulted in type A and B briquettes with the desired geometrical features. At the same time, a small, but statistically significant, impact of fragmentation on the durability of these molded biofuels was observed. At the same time, it would be advisable to conduct comprehensive research taking into account the energy balance in terms of improving the energy efficiency of the preparation process for compaction and hemp biomass agglomeration as well as taking into account the full costs of producing such biofuels.
"Under the test conditions, the biofuel used was in the form of hemp straw briquettes in a process in which the characteristic feature was the use of a grate combustion system with fuel ignition from below. The air distribution under the grate was acceptable in terms of CO, NO and SO2 emissions and, for this type of boiler, CO emissions were in the 3rd class according to PN-EN 303-5:2012; however, it did not meet the requirements of the ecodesign requirements for solid fuel boilers.
"The environmental load of CO, NO and SO2 gas components was significantly influenced by the additional fragmentation of hemp biomass, from which the B-type briquettes made during combustion emitted the smallest amounts of these compounds."
View the original study.
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