— Better clothing, better food, better gadgets…is there anything hemp can’t do? Today, reports on the benefits of hemp-based batteries and how a group of American and Canadian researchers used hemp bast fiber (the inner bark of the plant that usually ends up in landfill) to develop a battery that has been used in cars and power tools.
According to the researchers “cooked the woody pulp and processed them into carbon nano sheets, which they used to build supercapacitors on a par with or better than graphene which is the industry gold standard.” Is this new? No. But with continued research and development, who knows where hemp will take us in 2022 and beyond. Before we go back to the future, let’s take a look at how this research team used these fibers and recycled them into supercapacitors.
The woody pulp from the hemp fiber was cooked and processed into carbon nanosheets. These nanosheets are used to build something called supercapacitors. Supercapacitors are used as energy storage systems. We see these storage systems in the form of batteries that we use to power up different things we use in everyday life. What we may not know is that “scientists have long struggled developing energy solutions and capacitors that can keep up with the current rate of electronic component evolution. While we are able to store a large amount of energy in certain types of (non-hemp) batteries, those batteries are very large, very heavy, and charge and release their energy relatively slowly.”
Hemp batteries are referred to as supercapacitors. Accordingly , “it’s best to think of a battery-powered car or truck. They need a steady amount of electric energy as they drive down a country road. However, if that car stops at a red light, the battery will need a big burst of energy when the light turns green to get going again. Lithium-ion batteries are great at storing energy for a long time and expending it slowly. However, they are not so good at rapidly releasing a large amount of energy, like what a car needs when a red light turns green.” Supercapacitors are good at performing this function. “These types of batteries can discharge their entire load of energy quickly to provide a big boost of energy. That’s exactly what an electric vehicle needs to accelerate quickly. While supercapacitors don’t hold a charge for long, they can absorb regenerative energy from braking.”
The research team, led by Chemical Engineer Dr. David Mitlin of Clarkson University, NY, believed “replacing lithium batteries with hemp would make electric cars and other gadgets” we use in everyday life more sustainable. Who doesn’t want sustainability? Especially if you’re one of the lucky ones to have an electric car. Most auto batteries today are made from lithium-ion, an expensive material, so replacing lithium batteries with hemp would make electric cars more sustainable.
Now let’s take a look at the benefits of hemp-based batteries.
· High Energy Density: Energy density refers to the amount of energy a battery can hold based on its weight. The higher energy density a battery has, the stronger the battery. A 2016 reported study found that hemp-based batteries contained an energy density of 19.8 Watt-hours per kilogram.
· Cost: One of the benefits of using hemp over graphene is that hemp batteries can be made using hemp waste that hemp farmers don’t need. This makes hemp both easy to find and much cheaper than graphene. Over the next decades, the world is going to need a lot of batteries to power its vehicles, homes, and cities. Cheaper batteries made with hemp could keep the cost of this transition much lower.
· Availability: Graphene is a versatile “it” material that is finding its way in everything from silicon chips to solar cells and, of course, batteries. However, one of the biggest downsides of graphene is that it is difficult to make in large quantities. Hemp, on the other hand, can grow to maturity in a few months and is known for its ability to grow in many different types of soil, including soils that cannot sustain other crops.
· Superconductivity: Batteries need to conduct electricity with as little resistance as possible. The more resistant a material is to conductivity, the less efficient the battery will be. Hemp-based batteries showed extremely good conductivity.
· Temperature Resistance: The conductivity of hemp batteries remains high even in hot and cold temperatures according to the original study on hemp-based batteries. This is especially important when considering that this technology could one day find itself in vehicles that need to function in searing summer heat as well as icy winter weather.
Is there anything hemp can’t do? We’d like to think there’s nothing hemp can’t do. Simply put, hemp has been the past, present and is definitely the future.
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Focal Point, deserving of research, development and with the 4 Hemp key points being Health Hope and Happiness, thru Hemp”.