Hemp is an incredibly versatile plant, and it’s surprising how many different products it can be turned into: sparkling water, lipstick, jeans, batteries, sunglasses. The list goes on and on. But did you know that you can actually make a whole car out of this amazing plant? That’s what Bruce Michael Dietzen is doing. Dietzen is the founder of Renew Sports Cars, a Florida-based company that produces sports cars made from hemp.
The Original Hemp Car
The idea of a hemp car actually traces back to Henry Ford. It’s believed that the body of his 1941 prototype contained hemp and other plant materials, and ran on hemp-based fuel. Dietzen was taking a closer look at the details of Ford’s car when he discovered something surprising. He says,
“When I calculated the total lifetime carbon footprint of that car, I was shocked to discover that it was four times greener than today’s electric vehicles.”
He realized that Ford was onto something, and he began designing his own hemp car. In Dietzen’s version, the body, convertible top, and upholstery are all made from hemp. The body of his hemp-based car is light, but is more durable, dent resistant, and energy-absorbing than a traditional car. (It looks pretty good too!) The first prototype of the hemp car was completed in 2015.
Carbon Negative Material
But the biggest reason for using hemp isn’t that it yields a car that’s both sleek and tough. Unlike a traditional car, Dietzen’s hemp car is carbon negative, and that’s a big deal. When a traditional car is manufactured, large amounts of carbon are dumped into the atmosphere. Carbon emissions are not good. They are believed to be the major cause of climate change.
Dietzen’s car is different. He explains how making the body of a hemp car compares to making the body of a traditional carbon-fiber car. “Carbon Fiber requires massive amounts of fossil fuels to produce,” he says, “Every pound of carbon fiber produced dumps up to 48 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. So a 100-pound body dumps OVER 2 TONS OF CO2 into the atmosphere.” In contrast,
Dietzen explains that the carbon-negative fiber used in the hemp car actually takes carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
He says, “A 100-pound body removes (sequesters) 150 pounds out of the atmosphere.”
A Very Real Crisis
How important is it to stop putting carbon into the atmosphere? Very important. The United Nations stresses that we need to take immediate and drastic action to stop climate change. It reports, “Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale.”
The industrial sector is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, so
Dietzen believes that by changing the way we manufacture things, we can have a substantial impact on the climate crisis.
Rather than continuing to rely on petroleum and other substances that are contributing to climate change, he insists that we should look to plants, a renewable resource that make an excellent replacement. In fact, he believes that using renewable plant material could be the number-one way to address the climate crisis.
A Matter of Survival
In his quest to encourage the use of plants to combat climate change, Dietzen has gone far beyond hemp cars. In 2017 he founded Carbon Negative Technology and Renew Design, which is focused on developing carbon negative fiber made from hemp and other plant material. Dietzen believes that we can—and must—start using plants in as many ways as possible. Hemp is a good choice because it’s strong, fast-growing, and extremely versatile.
According to him, many of the everyday items we use could easily be made out of hemp and other plants instead of the carbon-positive materials that we use now. He says,
“Your readers, wherever they may be can look around themselves and see that most everything they see can be made from carbon-negative hemp.
And someday soon, within a few decades that will become a reality. Not because I say so, but because making everything possible from plant materials is the number 1 way to avoid a worsening climate catastrophe. We can reduce or remove 3 billion tons of CO2 per year by doing so. It's not just a novel idea, it's an imperative if we want to survive.”
“Buy Stuff Made of Hemp”
How can you follow Dietzen’s example and go beyond talking about change, and instead really do something to help make that change happen? It’s easy to start, says Dietzen, “Buy stuff made of hemp.” He explains, “[Consumers] can help raise awareness by buying hemp products. They can dress in hemp clothing which lasts much longer than cotton or polyester and is non carcinogenic. They can buy and reuse hemp bags instead of plastic bags. Buying and using hemp products like these stir conversation. They can also read The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the world's most-read book on the topic of hemp.”
Visit Dietzen’s website (www.CarbonNegative.Technology) to learn more about the hemp car and other carbon negative technology, or watch this video to hear him speak about how hemp can help save our planet.