Hemp Ethanol will Only Cost 50 cents per Gallon

September 6, 2009 – I was just watching Jodie and Marc walking through the hemp field and I thought it would be a good time to share my hemp ethanol research with y’all!hemp-bio-fuel

In this day of oil wars, peak oil (and the accompanying soaring prices), climate change and oil spills such as the Exxon-Valdez, it’s more important than ever to promote sustainable alternatives such as hemp ethanol.

Hemp turns out to be the most cost-efficient and valuable of all the fuel crops!

And as it turns out, the whole reason for hemp prohibition – and alcohol prohibition – may have been a fuel monopoly!

(i)Insert from Part One: The Economics of Hemp Fuels—

I decided to investigate these arguments against biofuels and hemp fuels by bouncing them off people doing research in this area. I spoke with Adrian Francis Clarke of Fibre (Europe) Laboratory LTD, Don Wirtshafter of the Ohio Hempery, Tim Castleman of fuelandfiber.com, and Shaun Crew of Hemp Oil Canada.

It is important to understand that hemp provides two types of fuel; hemp biodiesel – made from the oil of the hemp seed, and hemp ethanol/methanol – made from the fermented stalk. To clarify further, ethanol is made from such things as grains, sugars, starches, waste paper & forest products, and methanol is made from woody matter. Through processes such as gasification, acid hydrolysis and enzymes, hemp can be used to make both ethanol and methanol.

I asked questions about the current prices of hemp biodeisel and hemp ethanol/methanol, and what these prices would be post cannabis relegalization. To be economically viable, these fuels would have to be cheaper than gasoline, currently priced at up to 120 cents per liter (Can.) (7) or up to 3 dollars per gallon (US) (8) Of course, petroleum prices could get much more expensive in the near future, a topic which will be covered in the third part of this article under “peak oil”…

Hemp methanol, on the other hand, does make the fuel lineup. According to Tim, hemp ethanol could be produced for 1.37 per gallon plus the cost of the feedstock, with technological improvements and tax credits reducing the price another dollar or so per gallon! (14) And the cost of the feedstock would become much more available as more hemp was grown for more products, providing more and more free (or nearly-free) feedstock as a “waste product”. Could you imagine paying under 50 cents per gallon (US) or 15 cents per liter (CAN) for your hemp ethanol?!!”


One response to “Hemp Ethanol will Only Cost 50 cents per Gallon”

  1. Hi,
    I’ve got my Google alerts set to tell me when there’s a new article with “hemp” and “methanol” in the body. Tonight, this popped up.
    I’ve also done a lot of research on this for my novel, The Energy Caper, or Nixon in the Sky with Diamonds. I appreciate it when anybody writes about this, but you have a few misconceptions.

    You state the hemp can be made into either ethanol or methanol, but the economics are radically different. Methanol (popularly known as “wood alcohol”) can be made from many feedstocks–coal, natural gas, the leftovers in your refrigerator, hemp etc.–because it does NOT have to be fermented before being distilled as does ethanol. Fermentation is costly and time consuming and only sugar-heavy fruits and grains ( e.g. grapes, corn) are suitable. The futuristic “cellulosic ethanol” which the ethanol lobby has been touting is still years away as they have not concocted an enzyme which can break down the cellulosic content of corn stalks, wood chips, hemp and organic waste to allow it to ferment (a prerequisite for ethanol distillation). The historic method of distilling methanol is by heating the raw biomass in an oxygen-free chamber…a process known as “pyrolisis.” It has been around since the ancient Egyptians used to make their enbalming fluids.

    Methanol is every bit as good as ethanol as a transportation fuel, and the technology to produce it from available feedstocks has been around since at least the 1920s. For many decades it was the only fuel permitted in Indianapolis 500 races.

    The saddest thing about the energy debate is how the one fuel that could actually solve the problem is barely discussed. The farm lobby is invested in promoting ethanol, the culture warriors are determined to stomp out hemp, and of course the oil lobby doesn’t want any viable competition.

    If you’d like references on the efficacy of methanol as well as sources for historical info on hemp, methanol, drugs and other topics please check out the bibliography of my novel here:


    Scott Morrison

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