Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt is entering a partnership with Stora Enso to develop batteries using lignin-based hard carbon produced by renewable wood from Nordic forests.
The project is an attempt to develop the first-ever industrialized battery featuring an anode sourced entirely from European raw materials. This will improve the carbon footprint of the production process and also reduce costs.
Northvolt and Stora Enso have entered into a Joint Development Agreement for the project. Both companies will bring “bring key components, competence, and expertise to the battery partnership,” Northvolt said in its press release.
Johanna Hagelberg, Executive VP for Biomaterials at Stora Enso, said:
“The joint battery development with Northvolt marks a step on our journey to serve the fast-growing battery market with renewable anode materials made from trees. Our lignin-based hard carbon, Lignode® by Stora Enso, will secure the strategic European supply of anode raw material, serving the sustainable battery needs for applications from mobility to stationary energy storage.”
Wood has obviously not been super common for batteries, but scientists everywhere are trying a wide array of materials that could end up being suitable for battery production. Researchers from Brown University and the University of Maryland used cellulose nanofibrils found in wood to develop ion conductors. They were combined with copper and enabled lithium ions to travel with “record efficiency,” according to NewAtlas.
“The lithium ions move in this organic solid electrolyte via mechanisms that we typically found in inorganic ceramics, enabling the record high ion conductivity,” Yue Qi, who is listed as the study author, wrote. “Using materials nature provides will reduce the overall impact of battery manufacture to our environment.”
With more automakers seeking EV batteries, companies who can develop cells from widely-available materials could strike themselves a massive contract with a large automaker. Nearly anything that could alleviate pressure on battery suppliers will help EV adoption.
“With this partnership, we are exploring a new source of sustainable raw material and expanding the European battery value chain, while also developing a less expensive battery chemistry. It is an exciting demonstration of how our pursuit of a sustainable battery industry goes hand-in-hand with creating a positive impact both on society and cost,” Northvolt Chief Environmental Officer Emma Nehrenheim said.
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