Researcher Discovers Hemp Fiber's Potential For Use In Advanced Carbon Materials 

 February 12, 2021

By  Stratis Hemp

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  • Researcher Discovers Hemp Fiber's Potential For Use In Advanced Carbon Materials

Dr. David Mitlin, engineering professor at The University of Texas at Austin, has discovered that hemp fibers can be used to make advanced carbon materials.

“People say, well, we can capture this giant graphene market with hemp”, Mitlin notes. “I suggest the bigger opportunity is for hemp to take a big chunk out of the advanced carbon market.” The advanced carbon market spans a huge range of industrial applications, including water purification, energy storage, carbon capture technologies, HVAC filters, and more. Water purification, especially, has taken on heightened importance considering an ongoing environmental crisis and decreasing access to clean water in the developing world.

Advanced carbon products require large amounts of precursor material. Hemp is an ideal precursor for these products due to the ease and scale with which it can be produced, and given its relatively low lignin content compared to alternatives. Some competing precursor materials like coal and wood carry with them serious environmental concerns, while others, like coconut, cannot be produced domestically at scale.

Current manufacturing constraints mean that most advanced carbon products must be manufactured using batch methodologies, as opposed to continuous production, but the relative ease of pyrolyzing hemp fiber lends itself to scale — a tantalizing promise for the industry. The costs of retooling existing facilities to handle hemp fiber are not insignificant, but in principle that can be accomplished relatively easily. Furthermore, the products can be manufactured using low-quality waste fiber, potentially providing an outlet for substandard fiber from processors nationwide.

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