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- 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…
- 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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