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December 18, 2005

American Dream Machine

A comment on hemp gasoline.

A while ago, I posted a piece on the value of the hemp plant that has been recognized universally by just about every culture down through the ages until the 1930s, when it was made illegal in the United States essentially because technological advances associated with it threatened to undermine industries with large investments in alternatives that wouldn't have been able to compete.

It seems that the story gets even better. A recent article on Jeff Rense's news site tells that not only was Henry Ford's first Model-T built to run on hemp gasoline, but the car itself was constructed from hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel!

And more. Rudolf Diesel designed his engine to use vegetable and seed oils like hemp, and actually ran an early model on peanut oil for the 1900 World's Fair.

Although, on reflection, it might be a good thing for America that things took the turn they did. Hemp grows prodigiously from coast to coast across the US (in the colonial era, farmers could be fined for not growing it) and yields several crops a year. If it had become a prime source for both manufacturing automobiles and fueling them, the U.S. today might have found itself being invaded and occupied by Asian countries seeking to control their strategic supplies.

(I'm not sure why the Rense piece cited above has "Diesel" spelled incorrectly in the title, while managing to get it correct in the text. Maybe it was to do with something the writer was smoking at the time.)

 
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