OIL AND GAS

FOOD AND FIBRE

ENVIRONMENT

Health

 

HEALTH

RESEARCH AND
POST-SECONDARY
PROGRAMS

TECHNOLOGY
COMMERCIALIZATION
SERVICES AND FUNDING

OUR TEAMS

PARTNERSHIPS

Industrial hemp as new Alberta crop and fibre feed

Partners

Alberta Biomaterials Development Centre

 

Research by AITF's Jan Slaski revealed the potential of industrial hemp
to strengthen and diversify Alberta's rural economy and industrial sector.

Opportunity

An old-world fibre crop is being resurrected as a modern-day super plant by scientists at Technology Futures. Research and development at Technology Futures’ Vegreville facility shows the potential for industrial hemp to become a productive cash crop for Alberta farmers, as well as a sustainable raw-material for industrial products and processes.

Technology Futures is creating new varieties of industrial hemp with advanced breeding techniques. One such variety, Silesia, reaches heights of three metres in the relatively short growing season around Vegreville.

Industrial hemp, which contains virtually none of the psychoactive compound THC, is also pest-resistant and vigorous enough to outcompete common weeds, meaning it requires little or no crop protection. At the same time, hemp produces 10–15 tonnes of usable fibre per hectare, compared to wheat straw’s three tonnes.

Technology Futures also helps Alberta companies develop new products with hemp at what is considered the world’s largest, publicly-available fibre processing pilot plant. The Vegreville plant allows companies to evaluate different qualities and grades of hemp, as well as other fibre feedstock, to determine their value as a raw material in industrial applications.

 

Status

With Technology Futures’ involvement, hemp is now being used to make insulating, breathable building materials. Sustainable hemp products meet or exceed the functional properties of current building materials.

Hemp is also being used as a natural alternative to fibreglass in insulation, as well as in composites used to manufacture everything from hot tubs and boats to automotive body panels.

The Quebec firm Logistik Unicorp, manufacturer of uniforms for police, fire and paramedics, is testing Technology Futures-grown hemp as a textile fibre. Logistik favours hemp over cotton because of the firm’s green philosophy.

Technology Futures, in conjunction with the Alberta Biomaterials Development Centre, is also helping the Alberta firm Stemia establish North America’s first hemp processing plant, to open in 2013 near Lethbridge.

The plant will produce raw materials for industry, create new opportunities for Alberta farmers and further diversify the provincial economy.

To see more stories and videos, visit our Success Stories Map.

 

Put our expertise to work for you:

      

Related links:

Jan Slaski PhD   Logistik Unicorp
Researcher    
Ecosystems and Plant Sciences    
780-632-8436    
jan.slaski@albertainnovates.ca