University of Louisville growing hemp for science

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The University of Louisville has begun to grow industrial hemp to enhance it’s research in manufacturing and in fuels.

Article by Makayla Ballman

UofL researchers have partnered with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the University of Kentucky Agriculture Department to plant a 40-by-40 foot plot of hemp. The plot is located adjacent to The Phoenix House on the Belknap Campus. Other nearby plots will be planted with other plants that have similar potential as fuel.

Unlike marijuana, industrial hemp has no chemicals that produce a “high” for users, making it useless as a recreational drug. In addition for using the plant for research, the university will use the planting to educate the public on the uses for and benefits of industrial hemp.

Fuel and manufacturing research will be conducted by Jagannadh Satyavolu who is the bio fuels theme leader at the Conn Center, Noppodon Sathitsuksanoh who is an assistant professor of chemical engineering, and Eric Berson who is an associate professor of chemical engineering.

“Hemp is cleaner and cheaper to produce than coal, oil or other resources,” said Mahendra Sunkara, professor of chemical engineering and director of the Conn Center. “It could solve many of the nation’s future energy needs while providing a new, lucrative cash crop for Kentucky’s farmers.”

Andrew Marsh, the Conn Center’s assistant director added, “We want to eliminate the stigma that is attached to hemp. When people learn the characteristics of the crop and understand its potential for economic development, we think they will become advocates for its production.”

Other universities around Kentucky are conducting research on hemp, but the University of Louisville is the only university to focus on the plant as a fuel resource.

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