Hemp is said to be much stronger than steel. Now you must be thinking to yourself, how can a plant compare to something as rigid as steel?
Well, the measure of strength is usually by the following; Bending, cracking, and breaking. If the material does these three things easily, it does not come under the classification of a strong material.
Hemp, on the other hand, can hold almost twice the weight of steel! Shocking, yes! Hemp can hold a lot more weight than steel before it starts to crack. In addition to this, it can break and mend six times more than steel!
Why is Hemp claimed to be stronger than steel?
If Hemp is so strong, then why are most structures around the world made of steel? From your car to the electronics in your hands, they all use steel components. However, times are quickly changing. More and more manufacturers are growing fond of using Hemp as a raw material.
Even Henry Ford made a car with 10% Hemp fiber. The Fiber was used to produce the car’s body. This car was in the works as early as 1941! However, it did not make it to mass production.
During the time, Popular Mechanics (a science and technology magazine) quoted ‘the plastic is reported to withstand a blow ten times as great as steel without denting.’ So, in other terms, the addition of 10% Hemp plastic made the car body much stronger than using Steel on its own.
People are further discovering how much Hemp can change the molecular structure of objects. It can withstand the weight and act as a supporting mechanism— more and more manufacturers are researching and developing newer ways to harness the strength within the Hemp Plant.
Alan Crosky, a professor at the School of Material Science and Engineering, talked about the rise of Hemp in the manufacturing industry. He quoted, “Hemp fibers have a higher strength to weight ratios than steel and can also be considerably cheaper to manufacture.”
The Potential of Hemp
As the farm bill has made Industrial Hemp legal, a lot more farmers are now participating in growing and cultivating it. This is also because of the rapid industrial demand for Hemp products. Hemp can produce over 25,000 products. It’s the raw material of the decade! This is also the reason why Hemp goes by the name ‘Green Gold.’
While we as humans were a little late to recognize its true potential, it is safe to say that better late than never. Recently the strength of Hemp has come into the discussion. Hemp fibers have a better strength to weight ratio than steel. It can mend and bend much more easily as well. There was a reason by Mr. Ford’s plastic hemp car was much stronger than using 100% pure steel.
Hemp vs. Steel: Cost and Benefit
Hemp is not just great for manufacturers but for the environment! It is a fast-growing crop. Hemp can grow without pesticides, insecticides, and other added chemicals. It can thrive in an arid climate and does not need a lot of water. This fast-growing crop is actually better for the soil! It replaces the nutrients in the soil, making it much more fertile than, to begin with. There is no fallow period required either.
Doesn’t it sound like the perfect solution? It is not just used to make plastic and fiber but has great medicinal properties in addition to being used in food and beverages. It can manufacture paper, home insulation, and compost. No part of the Hemp plant goes to waste.
On the other hand, steel takes months of mining. First is the extraction of the iron ore, which is usually from underground mining facilities. Then it is taken to a factory where it is smelted in a blast furnace. The furnace removes existing impurities and adds carbon to the mix. The result is what we call Steel.
In easier terms, steel is an alloy of Iron and Carbon. This process requires a lot of heat energy that wastes non-renewable resources like gas, coal, and electricity. Moreover, it is a time consuming and expensive process for something with such a large demand.
Hemp beats a lot more materials on the market
Scientists added a super-material to the list of their discoveries. The material is called Graphene. It is a form of Carbon and is a hundred times stronger than steel! It conducts electricity much better than carbon and overall has amazing strength as compared to other materials on the market.
The amazing part is Hemp mimics many properties of this super material. In 2014, the American Chemical Association experimented with testing these properties of Hemp.
The Cannabis bark was put under high temperatures. This step was to change its molecular structure and turn it into a carbon nanosheet. Later that became a capacitator that matched or even exceeded graphene quality!
Supercapacitors are vital in electronics. They store energy in them. While graphene is a great option to make these capacitors, it is also very expensive. Using Hemp as an alternative can help cut down costs by a large scale. It will make mobile devices, and other electronics to be a lot more affordable for the general public.
The Farm Bill of 2018 has finally legalized Industrial Hemp. This has opened a gateway of opportunities that are to progress the manufacturing and processing industry by a milestone.
Whether it is using Hemp in electronics or to discover more of its properties, the process is just starting! With adequate research and development, who knows what this product can hold for the future.
It is a tragedy that our eyes closed to this resource that was growing all around us. This easy to produce and an affordable plant can change the way our industries operate.