LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research has undertaken a bold new research direction using Kentucky-grown industrial hemp for developing chemicals and fuels.
The center convened a meeting with Kentucky Department of Agriculture-approved farmers and processors Dec. 1 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. It 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 and buildings.
“The Conn Center continues to spawn truly transformative technology for renewable energy solutions,” said UofL Acting President Neville Pinto. “The University of Louisville is proud to promote the growth and development of such efforts that give rise to game-changing innovations.”
Financial support for the research is provided by the Conn Center. Additional funding has been made available by an endowment established by the family of Speed School alumnus Ray Schnur, Jr. His stepson is David Barhorst of Kentucky Hemp Ventures Inc.
“I am very proud to be an alumni of the Speed School and honored that my family is supporting research for such cutting-edge technologies,” Schnur said. “We have a strong commitment to this cause and look forward to using our university endowment funds to support hemp research.”
“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 research and development of biofuels, value-added chemicals and biomass to energy and efficiency solutions.