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article imageCar made of hemp being developed in Canada

By Lynn Curwin     Aug 23, 2010 in Technology
Hemp is the material of choice for an electric car now being developed in Canada. The Kestrel will hold four people and travel at speeds up to 90 kilometres per hour.
CBC News reported that the vehicle is being developed by Canadian companies in collaboration with an Alberta Crown corporation, and will be prototyped and tested this month by Calgary-based Motive Industries Inc.
The body of the car will be constructed from a composite material created from mats of hemp. The hemp is being grown in Vegreville, Alberta.
"As a structural material, hemp is about the best," Nathan Armstrong, of Motive Industries Inc., told CBC News. "Plus, it's illegal to grow it in the U.S., so it actually gives Canada a bit of a market advantage."
Processed hemp is allowed in the US.
Armstrong said using hemp is not an original idea, as Henry Ford had built a car using hemp fibre and resin more than 50 years ago. The idea was just not developed much because manufacturers favoured materials such as steel.
Producing composites from glass or carbon fibre is very energy intensive, but hemp uses energy from the sun, little water, is quite pest resistant, and is a high yield plant.
Full details the Kestrel will be released after the EV 2010 VÉ Conference and Trade Show being held in Vancouver in September.
The first 20 cars are scheduled to be delivered to EnMax, a Calgary-based company, in 2011.
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