Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Hemp Mobile

Motives Switch prototype: the Kestrel is expected to be this basic design
Canada’s Motive Industries plans to build The Kestrel, a new electric powered car with a body made out of hemp.

The Kestrel will be made using hemp grown outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The hemp will then undergo a process that turns it into an impact resistant bio-composite.

In order to create other composite materials made from glass or carbon fiber requires massive amounts of energy through heating and chemical processes, and they are very expensive to create and repair. Plastics are made from oil (enough said). Hemp is a natural material that only needs the earth, sun and water to create.

"As a structural material, hemp is about the best, as it has about twice the strength of other plant fibers. It doesn't require much water or pesticide use, and grows well in Canada, providing a high yield per hectare,” said Nathan Armstrong, president of Motive Industries.

As an electric car, the Kestrel will not only be operating on green technology, but it is also being built using green technology. The fiber material used to build the Kestrel is much lighter than traditional materials, which means that it will take less energy to propel the car down the street.

Not only will the new Kestrel be better for the environment, but it will also be better for the employees making them because the hemp bio-composite is much safer to manufacture than fiberglass or other composites.

The Kestrel is expected to seat four people, and travel at speeds of 90 kilometers per hour (55.9 Miles per hour). Prototyping and testing will begin later this month, and the first 20 Kestrels are scheduled to be delivered next year.

This is definitely a new “high” for Canada’s manufacturing sector. Unfortunately, it is illegal to import processed hemp into the United States.

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