Northvolt to develop wood-based batteries with Stora Enso – Automotive News Europe

Swedish battery maker Northvolt is looking to make batteries that use carbon contained in wood sourced from Nordic forests to help lower environmental footprint and cost.

Northvolt and Finnish forestry company Stora Enso plan to make sustainable batteries using lignin-based hard carbon on an industrial scale, the companies said Friday.

The aim is to develop a battery with anode sourced entirely from European raw materials, they said.

Lauri Lehtonen, who is head of innovation at Stora Enso’s biomaterials division, explained the process to Automotive News Europe earlier this year and outlined the potential benefits for automakers.

“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,” said Emma Nehrenheim, chief environmental officer at Northvolt.

Lignin, one of the biggest renewable sources of carbon on the planet, is a plant-derived polymer found in the cell walls of dry-land plants. Trees are composed of 20 percent to 30 percent of lignin.

In the partnership, Stora Enso will provide its lignin-based anode material Lignode, while Northvolt will drive cell design, production process development and scale-up of the technology.

Stora Enso is the world’s largest kraft lignin producer, making 50,000 tons a year at its Sunila site in Finland. It’s also conducting a feasibility study into the first industrial production of Lignode at the Sunila site.

Northvolt in February bought an old Swedish paper mill from Stora to turn it into a cathode material factory by late 2024 with an annual production capacity of over 100 gigawatt hours.

Volkswagen Group has been investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Northvolt to secure battery supply for its electric vehicles.

In March 2017, Stora’s head of innovation Mikael Hannus told Reuters that commercial production of lignin-based products would be five to 10 years away.

Douglas A. Bolduc and Reuters contributed to this report

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