CBC news reports that top auto manufacturers are looking into hemp cars. The BioCompsites Group plant in Drayton Valley’s Bio-Mile is producing door panels, kick pads, cup holders and dashboard panels through ingenuity and a unique manufacturing process. The Alberta business produces these auto parts from biodegradable hemp, flax and wood.
CEO and co-owner of BioComposites Group, Dan Madlung explains, they use waste wood and agricultural fiber. They needle them together to create a mat used for interior panels.
Big name manufacturers on board
The business has been up and running for more than a year now and panels are being tested in a few high-end cars including Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW and in Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks. They hope fiberglass and plastic components will become redundant through their innovative product.
The business expects permanent customers in the next few months after truckloads of parts have been shipped out. It has not been easy and it took years and $12 million in investment from the founder, his business partner, and wife’s capital investment to get the business off the ground. Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions has invested a further $ 4.5 million and an investment from Ottawa Investments in forestry transformation finally got them off the ground.
Once they are in full production, CEO Madlung expects $5 million revenue per annum.
As the only plant producing this type of material in North America and since auto makers are being very cautious, the development stage took extremely long and it was difficult to get a foothold in the industry.
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Madlung says their product is great for Alberta as every acre of hemp we use is equal to a forest in CO2 breakdown. This is a huge spin-off for the environment.
Hemp and flax are grown mostly for their seeds and the rest of the plant goes to waste. They utilize the stalks and farmers are very happy to earn extra income from their crop.
The lightweight products used are sought after by manufacturers to meet reduced emission targets for cars.
The “green machine” is a hemp car.
Bruce Michael Dietzen from Florida, the mastermind behind the “green machine,” beliefs he has the light-weight answer. His green car was made from 100 pounds of woven hemp and is lighter than a car made from fiberglass. The body is also 10 times more dent-resistant than steel.
Dietzen was inspired by Henry Ford’s 1941 soybean- hemp car. He battled to obtain the controversial material, which is still illegal in Florida, and had to import the woven hemp from China.
His sports convertible defines “high-performance” vehicle and could possibly be in the lead to produce carbon-neutral vehicles, reports Barcroft Media.
The former Dell exec spent 4200 000 to build his dream car, which runs on bio fuel produced from recycled agricultural waste with a much lower footprint than electric-powered cars.
“Many states are starting to make hemp legal. It’s a really great sign as we’re getting back to the point where we’re starting to make products out of industrial hemp just as Henry Ford suggested we should with his hemp car,” said Dietzen.
Now big name auto brands are taking up the challenge with the help of The BioCompsites Group. Will hemp car composites replace carbon fiber? Time will tell.