Hemp’s many uses from food to paper to modern technologies such as hempcrete are just astounding. The most ground breaking of these though, is hemp “graphene.”
To explain, regular graphene is comprised of a two-dimensional, hexagonal honeycomb lattice layer of tightly packed carbon atoms, and is one of the strongest, lightest and most conductive compounds ever discovered. Many of graphene’s uses are in the area of energy storage; some uses that are under development include electronics, biological engineering, filtration and strong, lightweight composite materials. However, a scientist by the name of Dr. David Mitlin, from Clarkson University in New York, says he’s found a way to manufacture hemp waste into a material that appears to be better than graphene. Dr. Mitlin and his team were able to recycle leftover hemp-based fiber, cook it down and then dissolve it until carbon nanoseheets that resembled the structure of graphene were left behind. They proceeded to build these nanosheets into powerful energy-storing supercapacitors with high energy density, thus creating a hemp based “graphene.” Essentially, Mitlin’s team discovered a process for converting fibrous hemp waste into a unique graphene-like nanomaterial that many say outperforms graphene.
Creating this graphene-like hemp material costs only a fraction of regular graphene production. Graphene costs as much as $2,000 per gram to manufacture, while the hemp-based nanomaterial can be manufactured for less than $500 per ton. To give proper perspective, there are 907,185 grams in one ton.
Most people don’t understand the truly diverse value of hemp. Cultures have relied on this hardy plant for centuries to produce textiles such as clothing, fabric and paper. Today, hemp is also used for food, fuel, medicine, building materials and plastics. Now with the energy storage industry starting to take notice, perhaps more government authorities will take a closer look at this plant. To think that the cannabis plant can supplement modern technology so dramatically is incredible. It is time that hemp be researched, grown and mass produced for its infinite uses and unexplored technological applications.