Outperforming standard Batteries up to 190 percent, hemp based Batteries could be the future of green technology. One innovation we recently discovered? Scientists discovered how to use hemp in Batteries electrodes.
WHAT IS A SUPERCAPACITY TYPE OF BATTERY?
The most famous form of energy storage is the battery, an object that contains two opposing electrical terminals separated by electrolytes. When you turn on the power, a chemical reaction occurs between the electrolytes and electrodes, producing electric energy for your device. Since batteries rely on electrolyes, and electrolytes wear out, all batteries need to be replaced. In addition, batteries take a very long time to fully charge. Today, we use batteries everywhere; in our phones, laptops, and more recently, our cars.
Capacitors work very differently from the traditional battery. In short, a normal capacitor is comprised of two metal plates and an insulating material between the plates called a dielectric. In a capacitor, positive & negative build up on the plates. Rather than electrolytes, capacitors store electrical energy within the plates.
Supercapacitors on the other hand, are different for two ways. Their plates have a “bigger” surface area and the distance between the plates is much shorter. Supercapacitors are usually coated in a porous substance such as activated charcoal. These coatings are called the “supercapacitor electrodes.” The electrodes serve as more storage on the plates, giving them more surface area to store electricity. Think of normal non-coated capacitors as mops; which can only absorb so much water, and supercapacitors as sponges, soaking up much more water than its surface area. The website Explain That Stuff published a great explanation of supercapacitors in August.
Unlike batteries, supercapacitors charge almost instantaneously and last much longer than batteries. Their biggest drawback, preventing them from being the popular choice, is the amount of energy that is able to be stored within them. Right now, supercapacitors only store a fraction of the power of a traditional battery, but scientists are working hard to find a way around this problem.
THE ALL MIGHTY HEMP SUPERCAPACITOR
Today’s supercapacitors commonly use graphene, a carbon nanomaterial to create electrodes. But making graphene costs up to $2000 per gram.
In 2013, Researchers at the University of Alberta National Institute for Nanotechnology found a more economical material in hemp. These scientists discovered how to process raw hurds (the plant’s woody core) into activated carbons through hydrothermal processing and chemical activation. The final product is one that’s able to soak up more electricity, providing better energy capacity. The solution produces not only a cheaper material — $5000 per ton — but one that performs up to four times better than graphene. Better yet, the solution uses the hemp stems, the part that is often left unused during other forms of hemp processing. With this, the entire plant is used, and no part is left to waste!
A handful of dried hemp cores, looking a lot like wood chips. Hempcrete building material is one common use for hemp hurds or shivs, the woody core of the plant. Someday, they could be used in hemp supercapacitors too.
If this solution can be easily reproduced, it would affect far more than just the electronics industries. Supercapacitors represent a fundamental shift in energy storage. Imagine if every battery powered object used hemp powered instead! It would mean that hemp would be undeniable in its utilitarian value. Remaining anti-hemp governments would be hard-pressed to keep the plant banned from commercial use.