How’s this for cannabis news? When cannabis can be used to power batteries and potentially rewrite modern energy, using the plant just to get high may prove to be one of its least impressive benefits.
According to engineering professor David Mitlin of Clarkson University in New York, industrial hemp, which is the non-psychoactive cannabis sister to marijuana, can be used to create “extremely efficient batteries” called supercapacitors.
But before all the tech talk ruins your buzz, listen up. It’s actually pretty simple: heating hemp fibers essentially rearranges the plant’s carbon atoms, which creates super thin two-dimensional sheets (nanonsheets), which work like electrodes to conduct electricity. Like, woah, man.
The research follows in the steps of studies on grapheme, which apparently holds the same ability to create nanonsheets and was being looked at to build better solar cells, water filtration systems, touch-screen technology, as well as batteries and supercapacitors. The problem is it’s expensive, the American Chemical Society reported in a press release. But cannabis proved to be not only more efficient than grapheme (a bunch of carbon atoms), but also about 1,000 times less expensive—which is super exciting because that means there’s now more money to buy the other cannabis plant and the ensuing Doritos and Twizzlers.
“Our device’s electrochemical performance is on par with or better than graphene-based devices,” Mitlin said in the ACS press release. “The key advantage is that our electrodes are made from biowaste using a simple process, and therefore, are much cheaper than graphene.”
According to Miltin, hemp supercaps “could largely transform the way electronics are powered going forward.” The technology could mean instant charging abilities—plugging a mobile phone into the wall for mere seconds before it’s completely charged. The thrill of that prospect is enough to get us high and keep us buzzing until the cannabis batteries hit the market.
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Phone battery image via Shutterstock