Like, it would be totally cool man, if your next camera battery was totally powered by hemp. Well, that is at least what researchers at a Canadian start-up are trying to produce. Their research is rather advanced as well, and they claim that hemp can even be a better supercapacitor than graphene.

David Mitlin, the man behind the research, explains that regular batteries, like the ones found in digital cameras, charge and release energy rather slowly – but supercapacitor can charge and discharge their content in seconds.

But there is a slight problem with supercapacitor, in the sense that they can’t hold nearly as much of a charge than regular batteries. To get around that, Mitlin is looking to boost the supercapacitor’s energy density by designing smarter electrodes.

And this is where the hemp comes in. Mitlin and his colleague has figured out a way to make a supercapacitor battery from hemp fibres that can hold as much energy as graphene.

“Our device’s electrochemical performance is on par with or better than graphene-based devices. The key advantage is that our electrodes are made from biowaste using a simple process, and therefore, are much cheaper than graphene.”

They turned the hemp into carbon nanosheets by heating the fibers for 24 hours at a little over 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and then blasted the resulting material with more intense heat. The carbons were then used as electrodes and an ionic liquid as the electrolyte.

The team recently presented their research to attendees to the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

But Mitlin was quick to add that while they have been making great strides in using hemp, a lot of work still needs to be done.

“We’ve pretty much figured out the secret sauce of it. The trick is to really understand the structure of a starter material and to tune how it’s processed to give you what would rightfully be called amazing properties.”

But even so, they are moving ahead with production.

“We’re past the proof-of-principle stage for the fully functional supercapacitor. Now we’re gearing up for small-scale manufacturing,” he concluded.

[Source – ACS, Image – CC by 2.0/Marc Fuyà]
Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.