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The company wants to produce batteries with wood

Finnish company Stora Enso wants to make car batteries more sustainable. The company uses an unusual material for this: wood.

More than half of the carbon footprint of electric car production comes from the car battery. However, while commodities like lithium or cobalt are often the focus of attention, another substance receives relatively little attention in the environmental debate: carbon-containing graphite in anodes.

be there Graphite is the second largest source of CO2 in battery cell components, or so Stora Enso claims. A Finnish company wants to change that and replace graphite with a more sustainable material: wood actually lignin.

The “miracle substance” lignin

Lignin is the binder in trees that gives them their rigidity and resistance to decay. Depending on the species, trees can contain up to 30 percent lignin. And since trees also store carbon (CO2), lignin is a natural source of carbon.

Therefore, science has long been interested in the “wonder substance” of lignin. “Thanks to its structure and composition, lignin has very interesting functions,” he says for example, Detlef Schmiedl, project manager of the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT in Pfinztal.

For example, lignin contains aromatics such as vanillin, which must normally be extracted from petroleum. And the material is already used in the production of plastics and adhesives. But more and more companies are using this material creatively to make their processes more sustainable: such as road construction.

So there should now also be car batteries with lignin if Stora Enso has its way.

Car batteries should be more sustainable

“Stora Enso can supply active anode materials for lithium-ion batteries based on renewable tree lignin,” says Lauri Lehtonen, head of Stora Enso’s lignode division.

Because by 2030, European anode consumption would average between 20 and 80 kilograms per electric car, says Stora Enso. Lignin replacement is therefore a more sustainable alternative to graphite from fossil sources. Finnish production also makes automakers less dependent on imports from Asia, Lehton says.

Stora Enso offers a sustainable, cost-effective, high-performance and local supply chain solution for anode materials in Europe.

Do not cut down any more trees

But while lignin from wood is a more sustainable alternative and is usually a waste product of wood production, trees must first be cut down for it.

However, Stora Enso assures that no additional trees are cut down for their production. Lignin is usually burned as a waste product. The company thus obtains “further added value” from the wood.

Stora Enso also sources pulp for its production from certified forests in Scandinavia and the Baltic states.

However, Stora Enso does not yet mass-produce car batteries with lignin. The company is currently conducting a feasibility study and looking for partner companies that could support the large-scale supply of “wooden batteries” in Europe.

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