Quantcast

Meet the Carbon-Neutral Sports Car Made From Hemp

Business

Commercial marijuana production, both legal and illegal, has drawn increasing criticism on environmental grounds, but one Florida man wants to use another variety of the plant to make a carbon-neutral car that would help the environment.


Bruce Michael Dietzen of Renew Sports Cars in Florida has built a stylish sportster with a body made of cannabis hemp, marijuana's country cousin whose cultivation is an environmentally friendly means of producing biomass fuels, paper, foods and fiber-based industrial products. This "green machine" is made from three plies of woven hemp, making it lighter than cars made with fiberglass bodies.

"The body of the car uses about 100 pounds of woven hemp," Dietzen explained.

The car is also surprisingly strong. Dieztsen estimates the body is at least 10 times more dent-resistant than steel.

Dietzen said he was inspired to create the hempmobile after learning about Henry Ford's 1941 "hemp car." The vehicle was real enough and actually ran on hemp fuel, but hemp only constituted about 10 percent of the material in the paneling. The rest was pine fiber, straw and ramie, the stuff ancient Egyptians used to encase mummies.

Dietzen's sports car also runs on biofuel, which will allow it to have a much lower carbon footprint than even electric-powered cars when it goes into mass production. Although Diezten is taking pre-orders, it's anyone's guess as to when that will be. He said he sunk $200,000 into making his prototype.

Like the pot people like to smoke, cannabis hemp is classified as cannabis sativa, even though it contains negligible levels of the high-producing cannabinoid THC and won't get anyone stoned. It's cultivated for fibers, seeds and oils, not psychoactive flowers. Cannabis hemp and recreational marijuana are the same species of plant, just as Rottweilers and Chihuahuas are both species of dog. They may be in the same family, but no one is going to mistake one for the other.

Except, that is, for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The drug control agency maintains that cannabis hemp is marijuana and is thus illegal under federal law. It formally considers hemp cultivation to be the same criminal offense as marijuana cultivation. The DEA even attempted to ban the import of hemp products, only to be shot down by the federal courts a decade ago.

But Congress has been nibbling at the edges of the hemp cultivation ban. The 2014 Agricultural Act defined hemp as having less than 3 percent THC and authorized research crops in states that allowed them. Language is included in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act that bars the expenditure of federal funds to interfere with hemp production in line with the 2014 act.

Florida, home of Bruce Michael Dietzen, isn't one of those states.

"Hemp is still illegal to grow so I had to import the woven material all the way from China because we still don't have the facilities that can make hemp fabrics," the auto-enthusiast said. "Cannabis hemp is still considered a dangerous drug according to the government. It's considered as dangerous as heroin or cocaine—it's insane!"

The DEA considers hemp to be marijuana, which is a Schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin. Even cocaine, a Schedule II drug, is considered less dangerous than hemp. But change is on its way and Dietzen wants to put you behind the wheel.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Legalization of Industrial Hemp in America Is a No-Brainer, Says New Patagonia Film

Ultimate Family Bike Raises More Than $1 Million in 1 Day of Kickstarter Campaign

Bike-Powered Farming Program Turns Lawns Into Urban Farms

Paris Goes Car-Free First Sunday of Every Month

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

Guardians of the Forest monitor passersby entering Juracal Village in Araribóia Indigenous Reserve, Maranhão, Brazil on Aug. 8, 2015. Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Two indigenous leaders were killed in a drive-by shooting in Northeast Brazil Saturday, and two others were injured.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Larger fish like tuna are especially threatened by lowering ocean oxygen levels. TheAnimalDay.org / CC BY 2.0

Human activity is smothering the ocean, the largest study of its kind has found, and it poses a major threat to marine life.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Adda Bjarnadottir, MS, LN

Up to 20% of people may have a food addiction or exhibit addictive-like eating behavior.

Read More Show Less
Spiced hot chocolate. Lilechka75 / iStock / Getty Images

By Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD

Food is the cornerstone of the holiday season. It brings friends and family together to share memories, cultural traditions, and great flavors.

Read More Show Less