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Industrial hemp to energy research at Conn Center

Patrick Perry, left, and an agronomy researcher, right, from the University of Kentucky Industrial Hemp Research Program sow an industrial hemp research plot on UofL's Belknap campus.

The University of Louisville’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research has undertaken a bold new research direction utilizing Kentucky-grown industrial hemp for developing chemicals and fuels. The center convened a meeting with Kentucky Department of Agriculture-approved farmers and processors on December 1st to discuss emerging issues.

The Conn Center recognizes that these plants hold the potential to be useful for fibers, biofuels, and other chemical production research purposes. They are highly adaptable to the growing environment in Kentucky and are being evaluated as a high yield, industrially relevant economic development resource.

The center is studying economics and markets in conjunction with farmers and processors to understand the challenges of large-scale implementation of hemp as a crop within the state. Toward this, the Center is undertaking research on the plant for its potential applications, including solid and liquid fuels, a sustainable resource for chemicals, and as construction materials for transportation/buildings.

“The Conn Center continues to spawn truly transformative technology for renewable energy solutions,” said Neville Pinto, acting president of UofL. “The University of Louisville is proud to promote the growth and development of such efforts that give rise to game-changing innovations.”

Conn Center's industrial hemp to energy research seeks to inspire new markets and economic development.

“The center continues to find ways to apply Kentucky’s renewable resources toward energy,” said Hank Conn, center benefactor and board member. “This research will give these farmers and processors a fighting chance in the marketplace once industrial hemp is legalized.”

The Conn Center fosters the development of transformational concepts and accelerates transition from lab to pre-commercial scale. The Center maintains unique, state-of-the-art facilities for advancing scalable manufacturing R&D of biofuels, value added chemicals, and biomass to energy and efficiency solutions.

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