Hemp has been dominating the conversation lately, especially in the agricultural communities, as the next great cash crop for American farmers. It is insanely versatile, said to have thousands of uses with applications in textiles, bioplastics, and construction being just a few of them. Unfortunately, the crop had been outlawed until very recently, and there’s a desperate need for accurate data about hemp if the industry is to flourish.
Thomas Jefferson University has been at the forefront of hemp research, and it has made a lot of interesting discoveries. Back in 2016, Australian philanthropist Barry Lambert gave $3 million to the university to create the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp, and it has been at the center of all the fun.
Mark Sunderland is Jefferson University’s Vice President of Innovation and Technology, and he is at the forefront of the university’s hemp textiles program. However, he realized it would be hard to compete with established fabrics like cotton.
“Looking at applications or research that involve trying to take the fiber off the hemp stalk and processing it into yarn became very daunting. The commercial industry partners are not there yet and that kind of technology would not be used for a very long time,” he says.
Researchers at the university were able to process the hurd or the whey portion of the hemp plant, and process it down into nanoparticles, creating a new building block for new fibers and yarns that Sunderland says can be brought into the existing supply chain moving forward.
He is also the Chief Innovation Officer of Hemp Black, a hemp technology company and subsidiary of Ecofibre, an Australian biotechnology company that produces and sells hemp-derived products. It was birthed from Thomas Jefferson University’s hemp research program, operates separately from the university but maintains a partnership with it, explains Michael Savarie, a Jefferson University graduate and Hemp Black’s Sustainability Enterprise Catalyst.
The firm has developed and patented a number of innovative hemp technologies, such as Hemp Black Original, a carbon-infused high-performance fiber that’s made by ‘pyrolyzing hemp biomass and grinding the char down to make fiber “masterbatches”. Its unique design makes it good at moisture management, temperature regulation, anti-static, and conductivity.
Don’t forget about Hemp Black Nano, a fabric spun from various polymer solutions with full-spectrum hemp oil extract. According to its website, it bonds well with other materials, giving it the ability to be more water-resistant or increase wicker ability.
Savarie says that there’s increasing demand for high-performance textiles that work well but don’t take a toll on our bodies or the environment, and Hemp Black is looking to fill that need.
“We’re able to offer the assemblers better products-natural products that are able to neutralize odor. That’s huge, and more and more consumers are saying they want to know what’s in their products, they want to know what’s harmful to them and the environment, and they want something that is natural. We’re able to provide it.”
It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that hemp industry players like SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING) avidly welcome such research since hemp producers will have more options regarding where to sell their harvest.
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