Ribbon Decortication

Hemp fiber is a legendary plant fiber that has been with humanity for thousands of years and has played a significant role in moving civilization forward (until the equivalent of fake news nearly wiped it out of existence). Through the passion of a few brave souls who dug up a copy of ‘Hemp for Victory’ in the US library of Congress did its amazing usefulness come back to light. Over decades of individual & association lobbying, hemp was made legal again. It wasn’t until over a decade of hemp re-legalization in Canada that it became obvious that there was an issue in producing high-quality fiber. The problem was that brave companies that wanted to produce & sell hemp fiber were using machinery developed in the 1930’s that still required alot of manual labour to produce a quality of fiber acceptable to modern composite & textile industries. Not being one to shy away from a challenge the founder, Patrick Harrap began to experiment with a new, untried method of fiber extraction. In 2010, ribbon decortication was coined as a new term. Seeing a maturing seed market, the design was tailored to utilize post-seed hemp and it was discovered that strains like Canda, Joey & Anka worked very well. Over the following years, the design has evolved into a complete harvesting & processing system. Hemp farmers need only call us to obtain our instruction booklet that outlines the systems parameters (fertilizers, seed rate, ideal time to plant & harvest).

Canfiber has been working with a local hemp grower to fulfill its vision of providing high-quality technical fiber & unlock the true potential of this amazing plant. No other plant can boast providing FOUR potential commodities off ONE CROP, namely; 1) SEED, 2) Low-grade CBD oil from the chaff, 3) High quality degummed fiber & 4) Cellulose rich hurd.

Today, Canfiber has patented its unique & time tested design but is not finished. It’s near-term goal is to take its system & apply it to its harvesting technology to allow for clearing & pre-processing of the seed tops & stalks earlier in the harvest season to produce a higher seed yield (based on 2003 research paper), more consistent fiber quality & avoid late harvesting & unpredictable field retting. Canfiber is poised to provide a lucky farmer located close to BC, Canada an opportunity to harvest their dual purpose seed crop for free & PAY them $100 per tonne for the leftover stalks! A negotiated short-term lease will be made to use a portion of their field to process the fiber & bag the hurd. Canfiber will stockpile & grow with the market with an IPO upon a successful pilot of the mobile system.

Check out our first white paper on this important topic; Ribbon Decortication paper

Here are Canfiber’s steps to decorticating dual-purpose (seed & fiber) hemp fields. Please note: This system has since been updated to be a single, self-powered unit driven over the crop at harvest but at this stage has not been granted patent approval;

– To keep costs down, a 14′ wide self propelled windrower would be modified to simultaneously harvest the seed heads (delivered through center onto slide) with a lower cickle bar & slide that discharges to the side. Chen, Y. and Liu, J. 2003. Development of a Windrower for Dual-purpose Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) provides the basis for the modifications.

– Two windrows are left in the field to dry & allow the seeds to ripen, increasing yields by 30% while simplifying drying prior to siloing. The fiber is baled using a Claas round flax baler & brought to the edge of the field (or offsite) under cover where it would await processing.

– Infrastructure for the mobile processor includes an ATCO trailer (office, WC, lunchroom), a pre-fab modular storage built to cover all the bales, bale unwinder & 40′ mobile trailer with processor inside. The processor would require a minimum of 1 operator to guide the roll onto a moving table where it would feed into the decorticator. The commodities obtained from processing are ribbon fiber & chipped hurd which are taken elsewhere for further processing into technical-grade fiber & pelletized hurd, or just sold.

Canfiber’s RD technology exploits the high tensile strength of the outer fiber, allowing for a low energy footprint to operate the system. The machine does not have many parts & is therefore less expensive to build & maintain. Designed to fit inside a standard containerized trailer, it becomes a key piece of farm machinery when combined into a complete system. When everything is factored into the equation, including overhead the ROI is staggering;

  • Highly nutritious seed ($0.65-0.95 per lb; average 800-1200lb per acre) !
  • CBD oil obtained from mulch (residue from seed harvesting) Value not available at time of publishing. 
  • Chipped hurd ($0.10-0.25 per lb; average 6400lb per acre) !
  • High quality, hurd free fiber ($2.25-$5 per lb; average 2400lb per acre) !

Designing a piece of equipment that can handle the shear volume of stalks was no easy task & required the coming together of very bright individuals to help see this through. Thank you all for your contributions in helping RD technology help humanity continue to thrive in the 21st century & beyond!