The waste industry may be adding a new material to recycle: cannabis. Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia are studying ways to develop materials from plants such as hemp to replace plastic- and metal-based car parts. Alan Crosky of the School of Material Science and Engineering at the university explains that building cars from hemp could reduce the number of rusting car bodies and rotting car parts often found on old lots.
Hemp, the less controversial cousin of the marijuana plant, is biodegradable and has high strength-to-weight ratios. This means using it can increase fuel efficiency in cars because it weighs less than materials currently being used.
Hemp fibers are cleaned, heated and in some cases blended with small amounts of biodegradable plastics and molded into hardened paneling and filling. But don't worry, the hemp used in car construction contains only traces of the narcotic tetrahydrocannabinol.
However, smell could create a problem. Not surprisingly, hemp can produce a musty odor when incorporated into a vehicle.
Sources: Reuters, ABCNEWS.com and the Associated Press