The Weekly Authority: 📱 Pixel pre-orders

⚡ Welcome to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority newsletter that breaks down the top Android and tech news from the week. The 204th edition here, with Pixel 6 pre-orders, a confirmed Unpacked date, OnePlus 10T launch date, a clip from The Last of Us: Part 1, and more!

In the ongoing quest for alternatives to lithium-ion batteries, a Swedish battery maker is looking to make batteries from trees, which sounds pretty interesting.

  • Northvolt AB plans to use carbon in wood from Nordic forests to reduce cost and environmental impact.
  • Working with Stora Enso Oyj, a Finnish forestry company, it will use lignin to create the anodes for its batteries, entirely sourced from raw materials.

What is lignin?

Lignin is “a plant-derived polymer found in the cell walls of dry-land plants.”

  • Trees are composed of 20-30% lignin.
  • It’s one of the planet’s biggest renewable sources of carbon.
  • Stora Enso is the largest kraft lignin producer in the world, making 50,000 tons a year at its Sunila site in Finland. The lignin is used to create the company’s anode material, Lignode.

How are lignin-based batteries made?

  • During the production of cellulose fibers, lignin is separated from wood, before being refined into a lightweight carbon powder.
  • This powder is then made into electrode sheets before being combined with other battery components.
  • The resulting material can be used to replace graphite, usually required for lithium-ion batteries to function.

Are wood-based batteries the future?

Almost all our portable electronics, such as smartphones and tablets, use lithium-ion batteries.

  • These days many EVs are also powered by lithium-ion batteries.
  • With the world expected to see over 25 million EVs on the road by the end of 2022, it’s clear we need to look at alternatives to lithium-ion batteries.
  • Because graphite is formed through a chemical reaction that takes place in unrenewable carbon compounds, it’s not a sustainable material.
  • Tesla would have to mine over 1 million tonnes of graphite to meet production targets of 20 million EVs annually.
  • Companies like Aptera have already looked at alternatives such as solar-powered vehicles.
  • But could lignin-based batteries be the solution the world has been looking for?

Why are wooden batteries more sustainable?

There are a number of reasons why these wooden batteries are better for the planet:

  • They’re sustainable: Materials will be sourced from sustainability-certified European forests.
  • They’re scalable: Trees are a widely available natural resource, meaning these batteries could be produced commercially.
  • They’re renewable: Most lithium-ion batteries are manufactured in China, but using natural resources would change all this.
  • They charge faster: Stora Enso claims a lignode battery has the capacity for faster charging than fossil-fuel-powered batteries.
  • They’re better at lower temperatures: Lithium-ion batteries are known to overheat, causing concerns about their use in EVs and larger vehicles. These wooden batteries are operational under cooler temperatures, making them a better choice for automotive use.

Northvolt began its first shipments to automakers in May, so we could see these batteries being used more widely in the coming months…

Tech Calendar

  • July 28: Pixel 6a launch
  • July 28: Asus Zenfone 9 launch
  • August 2: Motorola Razr and X30 Pro launch (China)
  • August 3 @ 10 AM EDT: OnePlus 10T launch
  • August 10: Samsung Unpacked (Galaxy Z Flip 4, Fold 4, Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro?)
  • September 2-6: IFA Berlin
  • September 10 @ 9 PM CEST: Ubisoft Forward showcase
  • November 8: Skull and Bones release date on Xbox Series S/X, PS5, PC, Stadia, and Luna
  • November 9: God of War: Ragnarok launches on PS4, PS5

Tech Tweet of the Week

Turns out, real cats are loving Stray, and there’s even a Twitter account dedicated to the trend:

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