Process for Fibrous Material Recovery from Hemp Agrowaste and Byproducts
Available for Licensing
US Utility Patent Pending (Not Yet Published)
Yan Vivian Li
At A Glance
Researchers at Colorado State University are developing methods of extracting fibrous pre-cursors, also known as cellulose nanocrystals, from the byproducts and waste sections of hemp production.
Currently there is little to no use for the agrowaste from industrial hemp production, yet there is a cost associated with its isolation as labor is required to separate out desired pieces of the crop, which account for only about 10% of the biomass. All other parts of the plant are considered agrowaste, and the US produced about 150 millions tons of waste annually (1). Currently, some of this waste is used as animal feed or organic fertilizer, but most is destined for landfills or burned for disposal.
However, the waste from hemp production is still a cellulosic material and has the potential to produce cellulose-based bioproducts. Cellulose is the most abundantly renewable natural polymer available, and is an ideal replacement for non-renewable, petroleum-based resources. Cellulose-based products can replace plastic and paper products like sponges, paper towels, disposable cutlery and products, and many other plastic-based materials.
Techniques for isolation and fabrication of hemp waste products into cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), and further into cellulose polymers, are a value add to the growing face of hemp production. These fibers would support a circular economy and prevent much of the hemp crop being wasted. Bio-based products have many uses, and development is underway for formulating biomaterials, household products, biomedicine, opto/electronic devices, nanocomposites, textiles, cosmetics and food products.
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- Increased use of hemp plant biomass
- Decreased cost associated with removal or landfilling of hemp agrowaste
- More sustainably derived products
- Products are compostable, unlike plastic-derived counterparts
- Cellulose fiber materials extracted from the waste can be used in various products, due to tunability of the process
- Compostable materials and products like cutlery
- Food products and packaging
- Smart” materials, for sensing of microbial detection and food-borne illness detection
(1) “What Can Be Done with Millions of Tons of Hemp Waste?” Hemp Benchmarks, Hemp Benchmarks, 8 Dec. 2021, https://www.hempbenchmarks.com/hemp-market-insider/hemp-waste/.
Last updated: March 2022
Cellulose nanocrystals, cellulose, hemp, hemp waste, value-added bio products, smart textiles, textiles, reinforcing materials, Yan Li, Biomass Isolations LLC