Holy Cheech and Chong, Batman! This car is smokin’! While Facebook bans an ad advocating marijuana legalization, in more forward-thinking Canada, an electric car made from hemp is being developed by a consortium of companies and universities. The car, to be called the “Kestrel” is to be prototyped and tested this month by a company called Motive Industries, a firm focused on developing advanced materials and technologies for vehicles. Twenty cars are expected to be delivered by early 2011.
“As a structural material, hemp is about the best,” said Nathan Armstrong, of Motive.
From the CBC:
The compact car, which will hold a driver and up to three passengers, will have a top speed of 90 kilometres per hour and a range of 40 to 160 kilometres before needing to be recharged, depending on the type of battery, the company said in an email to CBC News Monday.
It will be powered by a motor made by Boucherville, Que.-based TM4 Electrodynamic Systems, said Motive Industries president Nathan Armstrong.
The car’s body will be made of an impact-resistant composite material produced from mats of hemp, a plant from the cannabis family. The material is being supplied by Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures, a provincial Crown corporation that provides technical services and funding to help commercialize new technologies. The hemp is being grown in Vegreville, Alta.
Automotive pioneer Henry Ford first built a car made of hemp fibre and resin more than half a century ago. [See YouTube clip here]
“It’s not an original idea,” Armstrong said, but one that wasn’t developed much further as car manufacturers favoured other materials, such as steel, in subsequent decades.
However, fibreglass and carbon fibre-based composites have gained popularity as materials for the body of racecars because they are strong, but light. Such composite materials consist of pieces or fibres of a hard reinforcement material, such as glass or carbon fibre, surrounded and supported by a matrix of a material such as plastic.
Here’s what Popular Mechanics had to say in December 1941 about Henry Ford’s Fordax car:
“After twelve years of research, the Ford Motor Company has completed an experimental automobile with a plastic body. Although its design takes advantage of the properties of plastics, the streamline car does not differ greatly in appearance from its steel counterpart. The only steel in the hand-made body is found in the tubular welded frame on which are mounted 14 plastic panels, 3/16 inch thick. Composed of a mixture of farm crops and synthetic chemicals, the plastic is reported to withstand a blow 10 times as great as steel without denting. [Emphasis added] Even the windows and windshield are of plastic. The total weight of the plastic car is about 2,000 pounds, compared with 3,000 pounds for a steel automobile of the same size.”
More on Henry Ford’s “Hempmobile” (AutoBlogGreen)
Via Phil Proctor of Beverly Hills, California!
Posted by Richard Metzger |
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