Volkswagen-backed battery developer Northvolt and Stora Enso are joining forces to create sustainable batteries using lignin-based hard carbon produced with wood from Nordic forests.
The aim of the partnership is to develop the world’s first industrialised battery featuring anode sourced entirely from European raw materials, thereby lowering cost and carbon footprint.
The companies have entered into a joint development Agreement to create a sustainable battery sourced locally from renewable raw materials in Nordic countries.
“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…will secure the strategic European supply of anode raw material, serving the sustainable battery needs for applications from mobility to stationary energy storage,” stated Johanna Hagelberg, executive vice president for Biomaterials at Stora Enso.
The partnership will see Stora Enso provide its lignin-based anode material Lignode, originating from sustainably managed forests, while Northvolt will drive cell design, production process development and scale-up of the technology.
“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,” stated Emma Nehrenheim, chief environmental officer at Northvolt.
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The announcement between the partners comes at a time when critical mineral availability stands as a barrier in the way battery and energy storage systems.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) there is a necessity across the globe to boost critical mineral production to bolster battery manufacturing efforts.
The announcement of a new wood-based battery thus provides interesting ground on how to creatively manoeuvre critical mineral constraints.
Lignin is a plant-derived polymer found in the cell walls of dry-land plants. Trees are composed of 20–30% of lignin, where it acts as a natural and strong binder. According to Northvolt, it is one of the biggest renewable sources of carbon.
Stora Enso’s pilot plant for bio-based carbon materials is located at the Group’s Sunila production site in Finland, where lignin has been industrially produced since 2015.
The annual lignin production capacity is 50,000 tonnes and the Group is also evaluating its first industrial production of Lignode at the Sunila site through a feasibility study.