Hail The Mighty Hemp

Hail The Mighty Hemp
Posted by FoM on December 21, 2001 at 20:16:36 PT
By Mike Sadava, Edmonton Journal 
Source: Edmonton Journal 
Chances are that someday this newspaper you are reading will be partly made of hemp or flax or wheat straw. At least if Wade Chute has his way.Chute is a research engineer at the Alberta Research Council, and he's certain that a blend of wood fibre and so-called agri-fibres is going to become widely used in newsprint manufacture. Chute is especially high on hemp, but definitely not in the way that marijuana smokers are affected by this plant.
In fact, the old lament by dope smokers about being "down to seeds and stems again" is exactly where commercial growers want to be. They want to have the stems from which the fibre is harvested."If you want to make your pressmen really happy, get them to make it 10 to 15 per cent hemp, and it won't tear," he says.Because the fibres of the outer layers of hemp plants are longer and stronger than wood fibre, they can take a lot more tension without tearing. Hemp is so strong it is used in the manufacture of car doors.Agri-fibres aren't going to replace wood entirely, but they have the advantage of being annuals, which means they take a year to grow rather than decades for a tree. Hemp's nickname is not weed for nothing. Although it has all the hallucinogenic active ingredients bred out of it, it grows like a weed.Other fibres, like the straw from wheat or flax, are either burned or just turned back into the soil.Agri-fibres aren't perfect. Hemp fibres still tend to ball up in the process, which show up as darker spots in the newsprint. Hemp is also darker than aspen and could require more bleach.But Chute says all of these problems can be solved with client investment in research, and imagine the benefits. A good kick to agriculture, a reduction in the amount of clearcutting in the northern forests and a product that would be cheaper and could be very competitive on the European market.Flax straw is another fibre with great potential, especially for higher grade products like photocopier paper.Chute says farmers on the Prairies bury 900,000 tonnes of the straw a year, and that could be used in a lot of pulp.The ARC has its own miniature versions of pulp mills and paper machines to make samples of these products, and it has all the facilities to test the quality and durability of the product.The pilot plant is totally versatile for testing different fibres. Chute jokes that they could probably test oilsands in their mini pulp mill if they wanted.Only 30 per cent of the ARC's $85-million budget is funded by the government, and it relies heavily on private sector investment in the research. The work being done at the ARC is designed to be applied to existing processes in pulp mills rather than require new ones to be built.So far the ARC hasn't got the really big contracts for fibre research from the pulp and paper industry, but it's working on it."If I had a dollar for everyone who came up to me and said they were interested, I would be a rich man. People are interested in keeping their options open, but we can't provide the research for free."The agri-fibre section is a small part of the work of the ARC at its sprawling campus in the research park nearSouth Edmonton Common. About 350 employees work there, and another 300 in the ARC's other facilities in Devon, Vegreville and Calgary. There are a lot of keen academic minds out there, balanced by researchers with ample experience in industry.The ARC was founded 80 years ago by Karl Clark, considered the father of oilsands extraction and after whom the road is named.The council brings in the bulk of its revenue through contract research, as well as royalties and licensing fees from commercialization of technology.It soon branched out into other areas such as industrial processes and pharmaceuticals. It even had research input into the city composting plant at Clover Bar.After the government under former premier Don Getty opened up the floodgates for major expansion of the pulp industry in the late '80s, the council moved into forestry research in a big way. The forestry research has varied from work on sensors for pulp mills to the use of pulp mill sludge on agricultural land.And if the ARC's sales job is successful, the product of some of that land could go back into forestry products.If you know of any interesting people, places or activities in the Edmonton area -- from the serious to the ridiculous-- we'd love to hear from you. Please send us your suggestions by phoning us at 498-5862, fax 429-5500 or e-mail:  msadava thejournal.southam.caNote: These fibres are not "pulp fiction"Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)Author: Mike Sadava, Edmonton Journal Published: Thursday, December 20, 2001 Copyright: 2001 The Edmonton JournalContact: letters thejournal.southam.caWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Alberta Research Council's Hemp Links Hemp Archives
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Comment #2 posted by i420 on December 21, 2001 at 23:44:33 PT
Thats cool...
 Chute is especially high on hemp, but definitely not in the way that marijuana smokers are affected
   by this plant. Hey thats cool what ever works for you thats what it is all about.
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Comment #1 posted by qqqq on December 21, 2001 at 23:13:30 PT
I Beg Your Pardon....
...forgive me for another of my totally unrelated off topic.....I am a champion power-barfer,,and I'm always on the lookout for material to increase my thrust,,and make sure my toss is sufficient to defeat the competition,,,For a long time,William Bennetts "Book of Virtues",was sufficient to induce many a tournament winning upchuck,,,,,,well,,tonite I was able to acheive a Trophy winning,,Stadium grade , Projecto-splat power-barf,,when I saw part of "Erin Brokovich at Ground Zero",on that was fucking disgusting!.................hey,,why not read the presidents comments about his new carpet kidding,,he made a speech that starts with him and Laura shuckin and taslkin' about the new carpet,,,and then the dialogue quickly diments into absurdity,..Texas asshole warspeak.....
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