Hemp batteries perform eight times better than lithium-ion.
By Shish Kabob Seger
Could industrial hemp be part of the future of battery powered vehicles? Fresh research into the efficacy of hemp batteries says yes.
There is indeed precedent for this. An iteration of Henry Ford’s original Model T was partially composed of hemp ‘bioplastic’ and powered by hemp biofuel. In 1941 Ford presented what should have been a groundbreaking invention: a car powered by and largely built by hemp.In 1941, Popular Mechanics described Ford’s work as “ a step toward materialization of Henry Ford’s belief that someday he would “grow automobiles from the soil.”
Now, with battery-powered vehicles beginning to supplant those that use combustion engines, researchers are constantly looking for sustainable and efficient ways to create battery power.
Late last year, research demonstrated that hemp batteries can be more powerful than commonly used lithium and graphene. Researcher and popular YouTuber Robert Murray Smith discusses the experiment at length in a recent video.
He began by observing a Volts by Amps curve of both the lithium and hemp batteries. Much to his surprise, the power beneath the hemp cell 31 times greater than that of the lithium cell. The use of hemp in batteries is not new. In 2014, researchers in the US discovered that unused fibers from hemp can be converted into “ultrafast” batteries that are “better than graphene.” Dr. David Mitlin of Clarkson University, New York led this experiment into hemp tech. Scientists ‘cooked’ waste bark fibers of hemp and transformed them into ‘carbon nanosheets.’
“We’re making graphene-like materials for a thousandth of the price – and we’re doing it with waste. The hemp we use is perfectly legal to grow. It has no THC in it at all – so there’s no overlap with any recreational activities.”Dr. David Mitlin
This process has since been dubbed ‘hydrothermal synthesis.’ Subsequently, the team was about to transform fibers into high volume capacitors. Such ‘supercapacitors’ have represented a paradigm shift in the way energy is stored.
“With banana peels, you can turn them into a dense block of carbon – we call it pseudo-graphite – and that’s great for sodium ion batteries,” Mitlin explained. “But if you look at hemp fibre its structure is the opposite – it makes sheets with high surface area – and that’s very conducive to supercapacitors.”
A peer-reviewed paper ranks the capacitors “on par with or better than commercial graphene-based devices.”