HomeNewsPanda's Hemp Gin Achieves Commercial Operations

Panda’s Hemp Gin Achieves Commercial Operations

After more than 3.5 years since selecting a site for its hemp gin, Panda Biotech’s facility in Wichita Falls, Texas has officially begun commercial operations.

Said to be the first and largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, the facility has capacity to process more than 22,000 pounds of baled hemp straw per hour, turning it into textile-grade hemp fiber, hurd, short-fiber/hurd mix, and micronized hurd. The company says production will continue to ramp up in the coming months.

“Our straw is sourced directly from our farming partners in Texas and surrounding states, and, through our decortication process, it is transformed into packaged products, ready for retail or downstream manufacturing applications, within minutes,” said Panda Biotech chief operating officer Scott Evans.

Decortication separates the outer bast fiber from the inner woody core, or hurd. Generally speaking, there are two different types of fiber. Hemp tow can be used for stuffing or coarse yarn spinning, whereas line fibre is used for higher end applications including clothing fabrics. As for hurd, among its uses are animal bedding and building materials.

Panda is using a zero-waste process, utilizing every part of the industrial hemp stalk.

“As research and development in this area continue to advance, industrial hemp fiber and cellulose will help transform numerous industries with sustainable goals and challenges,” said Panda Biotech president Dixie Carter. “Panda’s industrial hemp will play a pivotal role in satisfying significant global market demand for renewable processes and products.”

Aside from being the first on a couple of counts, another standout aspect of the venture relates to electricity. The 500,000 square foot hemp gin facility has its own substation and is being powered by wind and solar energy – the sources of which are unclear.

Selection of the Wichita Falls site was announced in early September 2020. At that point, the company expected to commence partial operations in the first quarter of 2021, with full production anticipated by the first quarter of 2022. That turned out to be just a little optimistic, with issues including the pandemic coming into play. It wasn’t until late last year that construction of the facility was completed and commissioning under way, which was completed in February this year.

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

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