(Long-time lurker and first-time diarist from Holland here, so please be gentle, but I found this too delicious not to share here...)
So, it seems that there's even another ingenious possible usage of hemp-fibers: you can power your e-car with it. Yes, possible even better than with the latest, top-of-the-notch graphene - supercapacitors and at a fraction of the costs!
The American Chemical Society reports:
As hemp makes a comeback in the U.S. after a decades-long ban on its cultivation, scientists are reporting that fibers from the plant can pack as much energy and power as graphene, long-touted as the model material for supercapacitors.
Follow me over the orange smokey thingy for more...
"Sooo... supercapacitors, ey? What the heck are you talking about?"
I'll let the scientists explain:
Supercapacitors are energy storage devices that have huge potential to transform the way future electronics are powered. Unlike today’s rechargeable batteries, which sip up energy over several hours, supercapacitors can charge and discharge within seconds. But they normally can’t store nearly as much energy as batteries, an important property known as energy density. One approach researchers are taking to boost supercapacitors’ energy density is to design better electrodes.
...and that's where hemp comes into the picture. Not sure how or in which mental state these brilliant scientists got the idea, but they decided to check whether they could produce better electrodes for these supercapacitors from hemp fibers.
And surprise, surprise, it worked revolutionary well:
Fully assembled, the devices performed far better than commercial supercapacitors in both energy density and the range of temperatures over which they can work. The hemp-based devices yielded energy densities as high as 12 Watt-hours per kilogram, two to three times higher than commercial counterparts. They also operate over an impressive temperature range, from freezing to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
But the best thing is: For these hempy supercapacitors you don't need a new and highly complicated and expensive to produce material like graphene. The hemp fibers are produced anyway in the quickly growing industry of making clothing, construction materials and other products from hemp:
“The key advantage is that our electrodes are made from biowaste using a simple process, and therefore, are much cheaper than graphene.”
They now start with low-scale manufacturing of their supercapacitors. So maybe, in the not so distant future, we could see hemp fibers in devices like solar cells, water filtration systems or touch-screen technology - and these fibers could even significantly lower the costs of all these things!
Don't know about you, but I'd just love to be able to proudly say the sentence: "My electronic car runs on HEMP!"