MAR 30, 2023 12:36 PM PDT

Can Hemp Be Used as Biofuel?

WRITTEN BY: Helaine Krysik

Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a botanical class of Cannabis that is grown specifically for industrial or medicinal use. Hemp is used to make a wide variety of products – examples include rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, and paper. Another recent example is biofuel.

Hemp can be grown in a variety of climates and can be converted into a variety biofuel types. Examples include liquids like ethanol, which can be used instead of traditional gasoline, and biodiesel, which burns more cleanly than fossil fuels. Hemp biofuel can also take the form of solids like pellets and briquettes.

Hemp biofuel is considered a promising – if early – alternative to fossil fuels because of its renewability and sustainability. Hemp grows quickly, and requires little to no pesticides or fertilizers, making it more environmentally friendly than other biofuel crops.

Hemp biofuel also has a lower carbon footprint than that of fossil fuels, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

But while hemp is a versatile crop that can be used to produce a variety of sustainable and environmentally friendly products, helping to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, it does come with challenges when using it as biofuel:

  • Since hemp is so new, and in the early stages as a crop for biofuel production, there is a limited amount of research on methods for producing hemp biofuel, including any best practices.
  • Hemp is a consistently low-yield crop, so it would require a proportionally large land mass to produce enough hemp biofuel to realistically replace traditional fossil fuels, not including the additional water required.
  • Since hemp biofuel is not yet readily available, it would require a substantial upfront investment to build the infrastructure necessary to produce it, in addition to an adequate distribution network.

However, this is a promising development to keep an eye on, as cannabis and hemp become increasingly legalized and available, and the world adopts more sustainability practices.


Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, UConn, Extraction Magazine


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Helaine is a cannabis industry writer and marketing consultant. She has been active in the Illinois cannabis industry since 2020, and writes for a variety of national publications.
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