Replacing lithium batteries with hemp would make electric cars (and all of our other gadgets) much more sustainable.
Is there anything hemp can’t do? A year after hemp cultivation was legalized in the United States, we have seen its ability to make better clothes, better buildings, and better medicines. Now, there’s something else hemp seems to be better at: making batteries.
Most car batteries are made from lithium ions, an expensive and fast-disappearing material.
A team of US and Canadian researchers has developed a battery that could be used in cars and power tools using fiber from hemp, the inner bark of the plant that often ends up in compost.
Hemp fiber also has other uses, such as making cloth, paper, and even bricks. And most importantly, in a sustainable way, since this plant consumes little water and produces a large amount of fiber in a short period of time, which makes it more profitable and sustainable than other plants used for the same purposes, such as cotton or eucalyptus.
They have cooked the woody pulp into carbon nanosheets, which they have used to build supercapacitors on par with or better than graphene, the industry standard.
Graphene is a synthetic carbon material that is lighter than aluminum foil and bulletproof, but its manufacture is prohibitive.
Inventor David Mitlin explains to the BBC.
We’re making graphene-like materials for a thousandth of the price, and we’re doing it with waste. Mitlin, a chemical engineer, first published a description of his team’s battery in the ACS Nano magazine as early as 2014.
More recently, YouTuber Rober Murray put the hemp battery to the test against a lithium-ion battery and found it to be 8 times more powerful!
Tesla’s new million-mile battery is made with lithium-iron phosphate, which is supposed to last twice as long as conventional lithium-ion batteries.
Although it is more abundant and cheaper than lithium-ion, lithium-iron phosphate cannot compete with hemp, since hemp would be more powerful, much cheaper and, most importantly, a renewable source.