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Hemp Battery Company Cashing Up

Portage-based Wisconsin Battery Co. (WinBat) has just had a big injection of funds to help move it closer to its hemp battery goals.

In a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and focused on developing groundbreaking battery technologies, among WinBat’s activities is creating hemp carbon batteries for automotive, tools and electronic devices.

“Our goal is to innovate a sustainable alternative to lithium-ion batteries by utilizing hemp carbon as a key component,” says the firm. “These batteries will offer improved energy density, longer lifespan, reduced environmental impact, and utilize domestically produced raw material thus addressing the national security risks associated with global lithium sourcing.”

The company took another significant step towards its goal last week, with news of an investment of USD $5 million from Infinite Power Systems (IPS), which is a South Africa-based private equity fund.

“We will work with WinBat’s batteries, and WinBat has committed to producing those batteries in Africa, as well as sourcing the raw materials, including hemp,” said IPS spokesperson Michael Iuliucci.

But the batteries won’t only be produced in Africa – initially they’ll be made in the USA, and in Wisconsin.

The cash will be used to develop hemp carbon battery prototypes, and for the build of WinBat’s new manufacturing facility in Portage. Late last year, Portage City Council gave the green light for an option for Winbat to buy 17 acres of land in the Portage Industrial Park for the facility; which will also include a battery recycling plant and be partially powered by solar energy.

The 58,000-square-foot production facility will be producing three of WinBat’s original nine battery types. One of the hurdles the company will need to overcome is  finding the right hemp genetics for carbonization.

This investment means 87.5% of WinBat’s seed round has been funded.  The company intends hiring for initial positions in July 2024, with additional production staff to be on-boarded in November this year. The hiring could be particularly good news for some of 135 Energizer employees who lost their jobs when the decision was made to shutter Energizer’s Portage facility this year.

Besides hemp, Winbat is also pursuing the development of rechargeable zinc-air batteries, potentially suitable for use in electric vehicles and smaller devices such as laptops.

Energy storage is just one of the myriad current and potential uses for hemp.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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