The research branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making efforts to identify better approaches to using personal-care products such as skin creams that are made from hemp oils.
According to the Agriculture Research Service Tuesday announcement, it would begin a two-year contract with the Illinois-based Midwest Bioprocessing Center. The company specializes in organic pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing.
The two-year agreement entails a patented procedure at its core that a panel of chemists from the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research dubbed bio-catalysis.
The aim is to create approaches of using heat and enzymes instead of solutions and chemicals to speed up reactions that bind organic antioxidants such as ferulic acid to hemp seed oil’s lipids.
No funding limit was attached to the study.
In past studies, the USDA group aimed at similar goals with vegetable oils such as soybean.
The department said that the recent partnership may offer alternative methods of using hemp extracts in cosmetics. These are skin-care substances that have specific roles, including protecting the skin against ultraviolet light, stabilizing various substances in formulations, or retaining moisture.
Currently, according to the cooperative contract with MBC, the panel will explore crafting identical ferulic acid-derived substances from bio-catalyzed seed oil. This effort will potentially widen the market for this product from a projected 90,000 American acres of commercial hemp, a kind of Cannabis sativa that was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.
Today hemp seed oil is commonly used in CBD-based commodities for perceived health merits. However, the department said that like corn or soy oil, hemp oil exhibits various fatty acids (such as Omega-3), bioactive compounds, and nutrients that could be converted into specialty chemicals providing important new properties.
The Agriculture Department’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research is also exploring approaches to improve the procession of hemp into adhesives, lubricants, and fuels.