Hemp Graphene - The Progress so far and way forward
Updated: Oct 24, 2019
Preceding the 1900’s, cannabis was once one of the most significant crops for mankind. It was only in the past century when men forbid its cultivation, grinding cannabis production and all of its subsidiary parts to a halt.
The plant is rooted deep in humanity’s history and was likely the earliest cultivated plant for its textile fiber. Despite many countries’ recent regressions revoking the laws in which made cannabis illegal in the first place, it is largely recognized as a plant with no other use other than “getting people high”.
So, what else does hemp do other than provide for textiles and food production? There has been quite some chatter about the Hemp Graphene that has been recently introduced in the market, post the discovery of Graphene.
What do we understand about Graphenes?
Graphene is a form of carbon that exists as a sheet, one atom thick. Discovery of graphene was announced in 2004 by the journal Science and it is about 100 times stronger than steel, also, can conducts electricity better than copper. Touted as possible replacement for silicon in electronics, graphene has made life easier for many.
In countries including China, Canada and the UK, hemp can be grown industrially for clothing and building materials. But the leftover bast fibre - the inner bark - typically ends up as landfill.
When you think of hemp, high-tech carbon-fiber-like sheets of nanoparticles only one atom thick likely don’t come to mind. But they should. Someday Tesla could run on hemp graphene batteries, and California could get its water from desalination plants using hemp graphene filters.
The waste fibres from hemp crops can be transformed into high-performance energy storage devices, scientists say.
They "cooked" cannabis bark into carbon nanosheets and built supercapacitors "on a par with or better than graphene" - the industry gold standard.
One, Dr Mitlin has been working on creating hemp fibre for supercapacitors as, it makes sheets with high surface area - and that's very conducive to supercapacitors. By fabricating these sheets into electrodes and adding an ionic liquid as the electrolyte, his team made supercapacitors which operate at a broad range of temperatures and a high energy density.
Direct comparisons with rival devices are complicated by the variety of measures for performance. But Mitlin's peer-reviewed journal paper ranks the device "on par with or better than commercial graphene-based devices".
Naturally, graphene is undergoing extensive research regarding capacitors. It can hold an impressive amount of electrons and can discharge practically instantly, giving power as quickly as it is needed. But graphene batteries are absurdly expensive, and hemp-based capacitors are proving to be a viable alternative.
Graphene-supercapacitors have recently been found to be an outstanding replacement for bulky and less efficient batteries. While the world is buzzing over this new discovery, little attention has been given to the price of the material and production.
While graphene is considered to be one of the best materials for supercapacitor electrodes, the cost remains prohibitive. On the other hand, hemp waste is compatible, readily available and cheap.
Currently, it’s a waste product looking for a value-added application. People are almost paying you to take it away.
Everyone dreams of a green planet where energy is abundant and inexpensive.
Hemp is a natural resource that has long been overlooked as one material that can put this plan into motion. While scientists struggle to find new ways to incorporate graphene into energy storage solutions, the waste from hemp plants is proving more justified as a sweeter alternative.
Himalayan Hemp cooperative community preserves the indigenous Himalayan hemp strain by using an eco-socio-capitalistic model with the help of farmers residing in the Himalayan Belt.