Soil Remediation and biomass energy

Our hemp project in Vermont is underway, our primary target is to use CBD sales to fund our research. Before beginning my work with CBD, THC, etc I was studying Environmental Science with a focus in renewable energy and soil conservation. I was working with hemp to re-mediate soil and look into using hemp biomass for steam power generation

I plan to continue my work on these other projects over the next 5 years as our various hemp projects in the state continue to grow. I was wondering if anyone else has experience working with hemp for soil remediation, and if so did it have any effect on your ability to produce quality CBD? I have re-mediated heavy metals from flowers with the extract/refinement process, however one of Vermont’s largest problems is agricultural chemical problems usually related to fertilizers. I was specifically looking into re-mediating phosphorus from soils which reside next to bodies of water, Vermont has dealt with a plague of “blue green algae” blooms from fertilizer leeching in our water.

My hope is that we can re-mediate the fertilizers and then extract the CBD from said plants, then help other farmers of all agricultural forms get their soils back in better shape and help prevent more algae blooms.

My other goal is to work towards using the more inert hemp biomass to create biomass based fuels to power a water boils/steam generator. I did some research and work with biomass plants in college, and have been studying the engineering behind steam turbines for some time now.

I would love to start a discussion on these topics, and see if anyone else out there is interested in making their farms more sustainable, with secondary functions outside CBD production. I know @Future has experience with permaculture, perhaps you would have something to contribute?



What kind of levels of phosphates are we talking about in the soil? Remediating excess phosphates shouldn’t be a big deal, particularly in slightly acidic soil conditions. Hemp will love it and eat it up! Make sure to take a before and after soil analysis, at the very least. You will want to keep an eye on your Zinc levels if Phosphorus is very high in the soil. Cannabis also has an affinity for Aluminum, although I’m not sure how much would end up in a refined cannabinoid product, I doubt very much. And at that level of refinement, I would think ionic metals should be pretty easy to separate as well.

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Making CBD from hemp used for bioremediation of heavy metals is not the first place I’d go. I realize that’s not your primary goal, and that you’ve actually demonstrated removal heavy metals from isolate as part of your cannabinoid purification process. It still causes a gut level reaction.

Is it rational? Maybe? Is it relevant? Probably. If it gives me pause, it will likely give the less informed general public or regulatory bodies the willys too.

Using the fibre for any number of things, or the raw biomass for energy production sit much better imo.

I’ve had similar thoughts, it’s a big part of why I’m inquiring. My plan B is to use a low grade hemp strain I have surplus of and use that for the remediation. Then use the remediated plants for creating fuel without extraction. Mostly just curious about whether it’s a feasible thing to do with a high CBD pheno.

At the end of the day it’s probably best to only have primary and secondary goals with different crops and maybe not mix different processes to that degree.

Thanks for your input

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I like that plan better. Although I applaud the aim of achieving maximum utility from this incredible plant.

I recall a selenium remediation trick that involved cutting the plant down & leaving the roots & a bit of stalk to do the work. Harvesting the plants, eg for fiber, may actually be necessary rather just a bonus…

I would strongly argue against using anything that looked like good weed** for pulling toxins that the plant actually bio-accumulates. Some moron will inevitably steal it and smoke it, or worse sell it as smokable.

Using plants with typical drug strain architecture to deal with fertilizer run-off should be an entirely different matter. Looking like good smoke might then just cause a problem with the regulators…

As far as making fuel out of it…pre extraction has it’s advantages.

I discussed using post extraction biomass for the All Power Labs generators with Fritz at Eden labs. Fritz said he’d talked to them, and it wouldn’t work. I was surprised that Jim would say he couldn’t set it on fire…about anything! Jim Mason is my hero, and I have only seen him fail at setting one object on fire. Then I went and looked at his generators again…they are gasifier units, and use the volatiles driven off of the biomass as their fuel source. We strip all those…

**I’m of course making assumptions about the genetic background (plant structure) of your high CBD vs low grade strains.

Edit: here’s a description of the vegematic and the snowball Jim failed to incinerate with it.


Do you know of a good alternative plant species that we can cultivate on a relatively small amount of real estate that makes for a better biomass fuel? If I were to partition agricultural space for such a thing Id want maximum energy per volume of biomass.

thank you for your insight

not a clue. there is huge acreage devoted to rape seed for biofuel. corn too. but neither of those are using the whole plant.

If you don’t extract your biomass first, it should work in the All Power rig, and save you the work-up of a steam generation plant. Pelletized post extraction biomass that won’t work in the Power Pallet, would presumably work just fine in a steam generation scheme.

I’ve got a real smart kid I need to get working on cellulosic ethanol using fungi, but even then the energy balance isn’t great.

In an ideal world I’d be extracting with hemp produced ethanol as a solvent, and using a hemp fired boiler on my still. I’ve also got a local solar engineer who thinks he could fire my boiler with solar for several months out of the year.

What scale?

All Power have a 150kW containerized model they’re working on. And the Power Pallet comes with grid inter-tie options. Can I power my LED grow lights? maybe just the supplemental ones in my greenhouses. with my post extraction biomass?

Or are you thinking municipal scale generation? (have you seen some of these ops??)

I don’t know how the numbers stack up, but it sounds closer to closed loop, so it sounds worth exploring.

Would it be preferable to make carbon fibre instead, or otherwise capture the CO2, rather than burning the biomass? We do have that problem which clearly needs solved. preferably yesterday.

Can Hemp save the world? Possibly.
By setting it on fire to make electrickery? Not so sure.

I do have huge piles of it I need to do something with…and it’s no good for fibre.

Anyone here know how to turn it into plastic film.
Stuff that bacteria or fungi can process?
Anyone want join me down that rabbit hole?

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At the moment the scale would be really anything at least useful, even if its just the lights in the processing room. Ultimately with renewable tech and energy I’m always looking to use, explore, and research any possibility. I’ve spent the last few years just dialing in SOP’s I like to use and had moved away from my original projects. Not looking to save the world, or even probably power on a municipal scale, just a move towards a more sustainable operation.

I’m interested in going down many holes with hemp.

where asking “who knows how to make plastic with Hemp?” starts to look pretty silly.


It should be noted that phosphorus is not a heavy metal, and is actually considered a non-metal in chemistry. It is one of the most reactive elements in nature and almost always exists in an insoluble form. It is a macronutrient for plants and is used in quite large amounts by hemp. We like to see around 600-800 lbs/acre of phosphorus for healthy growth, up to 2000 lbs/acre is fine, any more than that and the phosphate starts to react and bond to shit and become unavailable. It is also taken up by the plant from the soil as an anion and therefore the plant can take it or leave it as needed and doesn’t need to exchange hydrogen to take it up. So there is no toxic level of it to the plant, and if the plant has had enough P, it will stop taking up more of it than is needed, so long as the P is solubilizing as necessary. Metals like Aluminum or Selenium occur as cations and cause all sorts of toxicities and inhibit uptake of other cations. They are the real pain to clean up! Although soluble phosphate runoff from farms is considered toxic to watersheds, causing fish die off and algae blooms, it is not toxic to the plant. Remediating it would just be planting hemp there and providing all the other minerals the plant needs in order to correctly metabolize and assimilate phosphorus, such as calcium, boron, zinc, and copper.

Do you have any ag soil tests to quantify what you have in the soil? I do soil recommendations for many hemp farmers based on soil analysis results and I’d be happy to help you dial that soil in based on whatever the hell is in there.


there was one other I couldn’t pull from memory. jatropha.
stumbled across it looking for something else this morning.

doesn’t seem to be quite the miracle it looked to be 10 years ago


That is truly a very relevant and useful article, thank you for sharing it. The fuels portion of that idea was meant to mostly entertain it as a research project, and if successful could be worth trying out. Though I must say your constructive criticism has brought some very valid points to my attention and I appreciate your contributions to the discussion.

I have been waiting on a soil test from UVM that my cultivator had done a month or so ago till I can make it up there next. I’m doing my own samples in a week or so, and will be testing throughout the season, and would greatly appreciate your help with soil.

Has anyone used any type of renewable/alternative fuel or attempted to make use of wasted heat energy in a cannabis industry operation? I haven’t personally looked, but I;m sure someone has to have at least used solar.

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you’re not suggesting giving shits and giggles credit if the hemp biomass fuel production pans out are you? Those two already get credit for most of my work… :wink:


I have seen two methods:

One using alkaline and acid hydrolysis.

1- Pre-hydrolysis with mineral acids or alkali to open the fiber matrices

2- Pulping (the most simple way is by alkali like NaOH) to cook the fiber.

3- bleaching which is final step to get lignin free Hollocellulose. (However - we want the lignin since it has various applications in biofuel applications and soft plastics)

The other using an acid as Trifluoroacetic Acid…

A) dissolving the said plant waste material in an anhydrous solvent comprising anhydrous trifluoroacetic acid; in order to dissolve a cellulose fraction of the said material, the said waste material being at least partly dehydrated in such a way that its water content is not likely to cause hydrolysis of the said cellulose fraction, and B) removing solvent from the solution containing the said non-hydrolysed cellulose fraction.

Im sure there are a few others out there…but what is the way to achieve industry production?

Happy Hunting… :smiley:


Timing is everything. As of now with our trade war with China. Most of our corn will have to be used for food and ethanol will hit a shortage - about time since ethanol producers only make pennies per gallon sold. I personally know of 4 plants that have closed down for two combined reasons:

  1. The “fat” was driven out because its an efficiencies game and created a “oligopoly”. This took time and this will happen with our beloved cannabis industry.

  2. In turn - these companies are shutting down since not enough corn is able to feed the mouth(plant). Demand goes up, raises prices of corn and product drives out the slow ones.

Many industry leaders are putting on their thinking caps and hemp has raised a few eyebrows in our circles. A few reasons…

  1. Pound for Pound - I’ve seen numbers that you can produce up to 80% more ethanol/biofuels than corn. (Would love an accurate number)
  2. 2020 Government is in talks about subsidiaries for hemp to stop making corn. If this happens corn is out the door.
  3. Emerging Industry = Growth for its shareholders.

Walking around the farms of Tennessee and other tabacoo states…Farmers are “starving” and stopped making tabacoo all together. No money. This is systemic…cash crops are not profitable. Seeing the energy and talking to farmers. Hemp is a culture change. CBD/THC opened the doors to acceptance…soon the floodgates will open to industry and application. No reason to reinvent the wheel here - just slight modifications. :slight_smile: