Scientists are discovering more and more uses for hemp, with recent research indicating that hemp batteries might be more powerful than lithium and graphene.

Unbelievably versatile, industrial hemp is already used for paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food, and fuel. With new research on hemp batteries could have a huge positive impact on the environment.

Robert Murray Smith conducted the experiment and discussed on his YouTube channel. By observing the Volts by Amps curve of both the hemp and lithium batteries, Smith found the power underneath the hemp cell was a value of 31 while that of the lithium cell had a value of just 4.had a value of 31 compared to a value of 4 from the lithium cell.

Not laying claim to having proof to anything, Smith says the results purely show that the hemp cells outperformed the lithium cell significantly better.

As far back as 2014, researchers in the US , led by  Dr. Mitlin of Clarkson University, New York, discovered waste fibers, or ‘shiv’, from hemp crops can be transformed into ‘ultrafast’ super capacitors that are ‘better than graphene. Graphene is a unique synthetic carbon material, lighter than foil and bulletproof.

“People ask me: why hemp? I say, why not?” said Dr. Mitlin. “We’re making graphene-like materials for a thousandth of the price – and we’re doing it with waste.”

In the 2014 experiment the team “cooked” leftover bast fibre, the inner bark of the plant that typically ends up in landfills, into carbon nanosheets, a process called hydrothermal synthesis.

According to Mitlin, “you can do really interesting things with bio-waste”. Banana peels, for instance, “you can turn them into a dense block of carbon – we call it pseudo-graphite – and that’s great for sodium-ion batteries. 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.”

Once the bark has cooked, “you dissolve the lignin and the semicellulose, and it leaves these carbon nanosheets – a pseudo-graphene structure.” The resulting supercapacitors operate at a broad range of temperatures and a high energy density.

“They work down to 0C and display some of the best power-energy combinations reported in the literature for any carbon,” Mitlin explained. “For example, at a very high power density of 20 kW/kg (kilowatt per kilo) and temperatures of 20, 60, and 100C, the energy densities are 19, 34, and 40 Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilo) respectively.” When fully assembled, the energy density is 12 Wh/kg, which can be achieved at a charge time of less than six seconds.

Texas-based electric motorcycle company Alternet announced in 2018 that it would be joining forces with Mitlin to power motorbikes for its ReVolt Electric Motorbikes subsidiary.

There seems to be no limit to the possible uses of hemp and sustainable energy at a fraction of the cost should be at the top of the list.

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