Now, there’s something else hemp appears to be better at – making batteries.
Most auto batteries today are made from lithium-ion, an expensive, quickly disappearing material.
A team of American and Canadian researchers have developed a battery that could be used in cars and power tools using hemp bast fiber – the inner bark of the plant that usually ends up in landfill.
They “cooked” the woody pulp and processed them into carbon nanosheets, which they used to build supercapacitors “on a par with or better than graphene” – the industry gold standard.
Graphene is a synthetic carbon material lighter than foil yet bulletproof, but it is prohibitively expensive to make.
“People ask me: why hemp? I say, why not?” inventor David Mitlin tells the BBC.
“We’re making graphene-like materials for a thousandth of the price – and we’re doing it with waste.”
Mitlin, a professor of chemical engineering at Clarkson University in New York, first published a description of his team’s battery in the journal ACS Nano in 2014.
Tesla’s new million-mile battery is made from lithium-iron phosphate, which is supposed to last twice as long as conventional lithium-ion batteries.
While more abundant and cheaper than lithium-ion, lithium-iron-phosphate still can’t compete with the apparently far-more-powerful (and renewable) hemp!