In 1941 Henry Ford And Rudolf Diesel Invented the World's Greenest Car From Hemp And Soybean.
Updated: Jun 29, 2022
Forget Elon Musk And Every Electric Car!
Long before the trend of electric cars that we are witnessing on TV, on Car Trade Shows, or on Social Media today, Henry Ford had the vision of a vehicle that was 100% green. The hemp car was 10x sturdiest than steel and fueled by Hemp bioethanol.
As early as the 1930s, Henry Ford challenged his engineers to develop a 100% natural car, and they got there in 1941! But too far ahead of its time, the hemp car project was buried with the entry of the United States into World War II.
When manufacturers and equipment suppliers are touting the merits of bio-sourced materials in future cars, it is clear that the approach is not new! So Henry Ford, one of the great visionaries of the 20th-century automobile, asked his design offices in the early 1930s to develop a 100% natural car. This request was all the more realistic for him as he was close to the agricultural world as he had already supplied many tractors.
Thus was presented on August 14, 1941, the Hemp Body Car (the car with a hemp body) developed under the leadership of Lowell Overly. While the chassis and some reinforcements were still metallic, it had a body entirely made of plastic material obtained from Hemp and soybean seeds, reinforced with sisal fibers and wheat straw. The material developed by Ford's chemists consisted of 70% cellulose and 30% phenolic resin. According to the sources, the cellulose was obtained from straw, Hemp, and ramie (Chinese nettle).
Significant gains in manufacturing
The car's body was lighter and stronger than the steel body of the day and cheaper to manufacture. In an interview with the New York Times during the presentation, Henry Ford estimated: "Plastic materials may cost a little more to manufacture than steel, but we anticipate very significant savings on all painting and finishing operations. ". And indeed, the Hemp Body Car was to be offered at 900 dollars - against 1,350 dollars for an equivalent model in steel. In addition, the body returned to its original shape after an impact and did not rust. The Hemp Body Car weighed around 1,000 kg compared to 1,500 kilograms of an equivalent car at the time.
100% Green Fuel
But the use of biomaterials did not stop there. So tires were made from a mixture of natural substances invented by Rudolf Diesel, a great friend of Henry Ford. Finally, the fuel used by the 60 hp V8 engine was ethanol, also obtained from Hemp.
At the time, the consensus in the auto industry was that hemp diesel and vegetable fermentation would be the future mainstream source of fuel. Henry Ford is known to have told a New York Times reporter, "there is fuel in every part of plant material that can be fermented. There is enough alcohol in the annual yield of an acre of potatoes to run the machinery needed to grow the field for a hundred years. "So why has this never happened? Once again, it all has to do with the big corporations and oil barons who wanted to monopolize the market - which is part of the reason why Hemp and cannabis were banned.
Think about it, if governments were prepared to transition to hemp-based biofuels, almost any country could become self-sufficient without having to depend on foreign oil companies dictating their economy. Power would return to the agricultural industry and the people.
Only Henry Ford did not foresee that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, dragging the United States into World War II, and sending the prototype away. And when this one ends, Henry Ford, then over 80 years old, will have passed the hand. The steelmakers who helped win the war reigned supreme, and the use of renewable resources was utopian.
Times have changed, and awareness of the fragility of our ecosystem is well underway. So Hemp should return to the forefront of the automotive scene...