Joint Venture to See Hemp Straw used for Biofuel
By Top Crop Manager
June 17, 2014, California - Discovery Minerals LTD. has announced that in a joint venture project, AB Agro Technologies Inc. (AB AGRO), has been granted license and is now authorized to cultivate industrial hemp by Health Canada.
The company has secured a supply of pedigreed Hemp seed from an accredited Health Canada seed provider in the Province of Manitoba. The CRS-1 variety has been chosen for the inaugural growing season specifically for its high yielding, early maturity and medium height properties - along with its exemption from mandatory THC testing analysis in the Province of Alberta.
AB Agro claims that these particular attributes will provide an abundant amount of harvested grain (seed for consumption), fiber and straw. The fiber and straw will be used as the cellulose biomass supply for the forthcoming ethanol fermentation pilot project with Syngar Technologies Inc.
A research study concluded that Syngar's PLUSWave technology increased ethanol production by an overall average of 26 per cent. The PLUSWave technology optimized the conversion of cellulose to sugars and enhanced ethanol yield. The proposed pilot project will utilize an additional proprietary technology to reduce costs and speed the pre-treatment of cellulose materials to form a slurry suitable for fermentation into ethanol.
With the worldwide increase in demand for oil, concern over the environmental impact of the use of fossil fuels and the challenge of sourcing a sustainable crop to provide the cellulose needed for biofuel fermentation, hemp may very well be part of the solution.
Corn-based ethanol is the biofuel most favored by current United States government subsidies for renewable fuels. Says this news release, hemp is an improvement over corn-based ethanol on several counts: higher soil conservation, nearly non-existent herbicide and pesticide requirements, higher yields, and greater suitability for cellulosic ethanol production, as opposed to either grains or corn. When compared to other plant species of active interest in biofuel production, hemp derives 100 per cent more cellulose than species under active investigation.
Production costs for corn-based ethanol is nearly twice that of estimated production costs for hemp derived ethanol. Hemp and its related species provide denser cellulose content than corn, higher sugar content, and derive higher ethanol yields per metric ton at lower costs.
Hemp is found to be a superior cultivar for biofuel production. Hemp exhibits far superior ethanol yields per unit biomass compared to corn. Pretreatment is necessary to alter the cellular structure of the biomass at hand. Specifically, lignin presents a significant stumbling-block to the fermentation of cellulosic material. Pretreatment procedures are primarily aimed at breaking down lignin. The challenge of stripping lignin from lignin bound cellulosic plant matter is the primary complexity that must be overcome prior to the direct conversion of cellulose to ethanol.
Discovery's joint venture pilot project intends to overcome these challenges and establish a new industry standard for the pre-treatment process of hemp in biofuel production.