Hemp Will Power Batteries in the Future

Guest Columnist: G.R. Anderson Jr.

The August 28, 2014, issue of Rolling Stone has octogenarian Willie Nelson on the cover, calling him “America’s most beloved outlaw.” Within the story Willie says thusly, “You can bust me for weed, and I’ll pay my fine or go to jail.” And then adds, “Then I’ll get out and burn one on the way home.”

The fact that Nelson has become a welcome and friendly marijuana advocate indicates just how much the tide has shifted against “just say no” and all other anti-marijuana causes in a very short time. And with several pieces of legislation for legalization in some form on nearly every state level, it is clear that marijuana is one of the biggest burgeoning investment markets since the oil boom in North Dakota.

But hemp and marijuana are different than oil, and more versatile and – more importantly – growable.

Part of this sustainable energy model is writ large in a recent post on alternet.org. “On top of its vast medicinal benefits … what if cannabis could also power a cheap, sustainable super battery and forever change the energy game?”

Good question, and one that goes to the heart of a burgeoning hemp energy market. Behold, the report from alternet:

“During the American Chemical Society‘s national meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday, engineering professor David Mitlin (who now works at Clarkson University in New York) presented the findings. The study he led investigates the potential for industrial hemp (the non-psychoactive cannabis plant closely related to marijuana) to aid in the creation of extremely efficient batteries called supercapacitors, or ‘supercaps.’

“By heating hemp fibers, the researchers were able to rearrange the plant’s carbon atoms to create thin, two-dimensional sheets, or nanosheets. Those nanosheets are then used as electrodes (electrical conductors) in the supercaps.”

There’s also a recent piece from the Tech Times reporting on the study:

“Hemp could be a better battery material than the traditional graphene, scientists show in a new research study. Hemp is coming back into fashion, being used for everything from recyclable, good-for-the-environment cloth to vegan protein powders and milk substitutes.

“In addition to that, scientists have now discovered that hemp can store as much energy as graphene, the material that scientists have long thought would be the ideal material for a new kind of super-battery known as a supercapacitor.”

Check out this info on supercaps: http://www.altasupercaps.com/

“Weed is good for you,” Willie Nelson tells Rolling Stone, before turning to his biodiesel tour bus. “Wanna ride around a bit?”


G.R. Anderson lives in Minneapolis where he writes about music, culture and alternative finance.

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