Ontario company to build hemp plant

By Anna Austin
Web exclusive posted Jan. 27, 2009, at 4:13 p.m. CST

Ontario-based Stonehedge Bio-Resources Inc. announced Jan. 21 it had received $2 million from United Kingdom investors to construct an industrial hemp processing plant in eastern Ontario.

Stonehedge has been researching industrial hemp for over a decade, and began work towards commercialization in the past few years. John Baker, founder and chairman of Stonehedge, said an exact location for the plant has not been secured yet, however, once finances are in line, a site will be chosen. "We've been working on it and are very close," he said.

The company expects to begin construction of the facility this spring, which may employ up to 27 people within the next two years. The products and coproducts, such as wood-like chips and pellets, produced at the plant will be used for multiple applications, including energy production.

Baker said the plant's power source has not been determined yet, however, the company would like to use its own product. The company would also like to construct the facility with "hemcrete," a product made from hemp containing similar characteristics to concrete. He added that it may be difficult to do since the facility isn't built yet, and it will be the first of its kind.

"Hemp is the best crop for biomass, especially in this area," Baker said. "We are utilizing plant genetics that date back 200 years-the constitution was written on hemp paper."

The feedstock for the plant will be grown locally on an area of 15,000 acres to 20,000 acres. Baker said the facility will be capable of processing approximately seven tons of biomass per hour.