Researchers at Bemp Research Corp. have developed a lithium-sulfur battery that is more cost-effective, has a higher performance and is more recyclable than lithium-ion batteries thanks to a helpful material: hemp.
The company uses carbonized hemp rather than heavy metals like cobalt or nickel, making batteries that are lightweight and durable. “Hemp is a better, lower-cost solution. Hemp’s durability can help the cathode withstand hundreds of cycles of contraction and expansion,” Son Nguyen, founder of Bemp Research, told EnergyTech.
The use of hemp also means these batteries should have a smaller impact on the environment and avoid harsh conditions in mining communities where cobalt is extracted for current batteries.
Bemp Research said its hemp batteries only one heavy metal: lithium. This also means the batteries are far easier to recycle than lithium-ion batteries.
“Sulfur is very abundant," says Nguyen. “We also have a strategic partnership with Delta Agriculture, the biggest hemp producer in the USA. Delta Agriculture highlights that hemp is a legal crop that requires little water, no pesticides, and is better at carbon sequestration than trees.”
Nguyen explained in the interview with EnergyTech that using an abundant crop like hemp and other materials that are more widely available than heavy metals can alleviate supply chain issues, lead to less costly manufacturing and create batteries that are safer in the event that they are damaged.
Under tests, the batteries show they can be charged in just 20 minutes and are expected to last 100,000 miles with fast charging or more with slow charging. The team hopes to scale to mass production by 2026, and the batteries will be especially suitable for heavy-duty electric trucks and electric airplanes.