(photo by NMG owned by 4E)
4E Enterprise internal incubator of innovative ideas, i3, has been conducting R&D on hemp hurd from partner farmers to identify the potential of this sustainable material. And now after more than a year, i3 is ready to reveal what it has found.
The hemp hurd we have been using during the R&D is from full plant harvest with varying sizes. The bast material is still part of the overall material with different sizes of stems, stalks, and branches included as well. This sample material gave us ample variations to examine the potential of this sustainable material.
First Steps. Sizing
Upon receiving the samples, we identified a company in close proximity to provide sizing of the material so we could have even more variations. This sizing of the material, we term "fractioning", is necessary if you are looking to create a product that needs more surface area compared to the larger whole pieces the original plant offer. During this phase we were looking for several fraction sizes so we could take in to consideration as we moved forward with product manufacturing capabilities. As you can imagine, not every product requires the same size starting material. The directed the service provider to create five to seven fraction variations. This was achieved and we took this material, and the raw unsized material into the shop to begin the next phase.
Evaluate the Markets
In order to determine what the hemp hurd material variations could best be suited, we had to conduct market research and identify similar materials being used. This took us to landscape material, absorbent material, pet waste management, and deeper into waste to energy systems. This wide range of market potentials provided us with a sense of what the current products was priced, and to calculate the forecasted cost with the hemp hurd material. It became immediately clear that some of the markets were too low price point, which let us know that was not something to consider further. If you can't compete on material costs, it will be almost impossible to compete on overall costs.
Now with the market analysis complete, we began to gain further understanding of what it would take to create a product within the focused markets.
This step requires business development approach as you need to understand the entirety of the product you want to create with all costs considered. So, we developed multiple business plans to evaluate the feasibility of each product. These key factors were considered:
As we moved through this phase it again became obvious which products had the most opportunity comparatively.
There is a great opportunity with development of products with hemp hurd. During the time of conducting this in depth R&D hempcrete has been approved as a viable construction product to be legally underwritten, insured, and market available by 2024. This is exciting news as it will move hemp back to a position of potential beyond the medicinal aspect of flower extracts, beyond the value of hemp seed, and stand out as a sustainable material for construction. Yes, we have known about hempcrete for twenty plus years, but now it is more than a fringe DIY it is a "real products".
We welcome investors and manufacturing partners to get in touch with us as we are ready to move this extensive R&D to the final "D", deployment. There is great opportunity in establishing a diverse hemp hurd product development business, and we want to be there as your experts in bringing this new found product to the world. This goes in line with 4E Impact mission to provide quality business while making a positive impact for People, Planet, and the Plant.