Taking Stalk of Hemp Fibre
Taking Stalk of Hemp Fibre
Processing hemp stalks has the potential to be a win for all parties involved. Farmers benefit by being able to monetize their hemp crop for more than just the grain value as is the case today. The environment benefits because hemp stalks absorb a very large amount of C02 in a very short period of time. Depending on the end product, the CO2 can be permanently sequestered.
About Hemp Stalks
Hemp plants can grow anywhere from 4-14 feet in a season depending on soil conditions and sunlight hours - producing an amazing an amount of biomass that has the potential to be converted into a range of industrial applications. Unfortunately, in Canada there is very little processing capacity (typically known as decortication) and this potentially valuable resource is either left in the field to decompose or, worse yet, is burned. Until now.
Blue Sky has introduced a low-cost technology to help commercialize industrial opportunities to process hemp stalks and develop the emerging natural materials economy. Hemp stalks contain two main types of fibre: bast or long fibres found in the bark (skin) and hurd (shive) or short fibres located in the core of the stem. Typically hemp stalks contain ~20-30% bast fibre and 70-80% hurd. Each component of the hemp stalk has very different industrial application.
Uses of Bast Fibre & Hurd
Bast Fibre is typically a high-value product and is used as an input into textiles, biocomposites, pulp and paper, automotive parts, and injection moulding. One of the most promising applications of hemp fibre is as a replacement for fibreglass – offering a more environmentally friendly product (sequesters CO2) and offering superior performance characteristics (lighter and stronger).
In addition to the traditional uses of bast fibre, recent research is indicating a very exciting future for hemp fibre in advanced materials such as batteries and supercapacitors. Hurd is typically a lower value product and used as an input into non-structural building materials, animal bedding, building blocks and has potential as a source of biofuel. To separate the stalk into its useful components (bast fibre and hurd), the stalks go through a mechanical process known as decortication.
Stalk Processing – "Decortication"
Hemp stalk processing is typically referred to as "decortication". Technically speaking, decortication is only one (albeit the most important) of several steps involved in fully processing hemp stalks into useful components. The majority of decortication capacity that exists today is located in Europe and China where the focus has been on fibre production as opposed to North America where most hemp has been grown for grain. With the absence of North American decortication, farmers end up having to burn the stalks.
The Blue Sky approach is ‘whole plant utilization’ meaning we harness the full value of the grain for superfoods, flower for CBD extraction and the stalks for a wide variety of industrial products. Whole plant utilization enables us to pass on cost efficiencies to our customers and results in a zero carbon footprint.
About Blue Sky Hemp Ventures
Blue Sky Hemp Ventures provides a range of sustainable, high-quality, and exceptional value industrial hemp products throughout North America and around the globe. Established in 2017 in Rosetown, Saskatchewan, Blue Sky is GMP-certified and expects to achieve EU-GMP certification, the most rigorous standard for producers of medical products, by 2020.