Posted Jul 23, 2022, 9:00 AM
A first in the world: Northvolt announced this Friday to launch the manufacture of batteries using the carbon contained in the wood of the Nordic forests. One of the major European specialists in batteries for electric cars has teamed up with the global timber giant Stora Enso Oyjprovenance. The idea should reduce the costs and the ecological footprint of production – and take a step towards the sovereignty of its supply chain.
“We are exploring a new source of sustainable raw material and expanding the European battery value chain, while developing less expensive battery chemistry,” said Emma Nehrenheim, environmental manager at Northvolt.
Northvolt and @storaenso have partnered to develop sustainable batteries using wood-based hard carbon. The aim is to develop the world’s first industrialized battery featuring anode sourced entirely from European raw materials ↓ https://t.co/6zAoFRPnsR
— Northvolt (@northvolt) July 22, 2022
In this perspective, the Swedish Northvolt and the Finnish Stora Enso plan to manufacture on an industrial scale a battery whose anode (one of the two electrodes found in a current generator system, negatively charged) comes entirely from materials European firsts: wood, from which will be extracted hard carbon based on lignin – one of the largest renewable sources of carbon on the planet. This plant-derived polymer is found in the cell walls of dry plants. Trees are made up of 20 to 30% of it.
After being separated from the wood during the cellulose fiber production process, the lignin is refined into a fine carbon powder, which can be used as the active material for the negative anode of the lithium-ion battery.
Under the partnership, Stora Enso will supply the lignin-based anode material, while Northvolt will lead the cell design, production process development and technology scale-up.
Stora Enso is the world’s largest producer of kraft lignin, producing 50,000 tonnes per year at its Sunila site in Finland. It is also conducting a feasibility study on the first industrial production of Lignode at the Sunila site.
A new European giant
Founded in 2016 by two Tesla alumni, Peter Carlsson and Paolo Cerruti, Northvolt became the very first European company to produce batteries on the Old Continent with the launch of its battery cell “giga-factory” in Skellefteå at the end of 2021. , near the polar circle.
The ex-start-up, whose “objective is to have the greenest battery cell in the world” according to the director of the giga-factory, Fredrik Hedlund, had already announced in November that it had produced a battery cell from nickel, manganese and cobalt 100% recycled.
Promising, it has attracted among its shareholders giants like Volkswagen and Goldman Sachs, with whom it formalized a gigantic round of funding of 2.75 billion dollars in June 2021, but also BMW, or the founder of Spotify, the billionaire Daniel Ek.
In a context of energy crisis and shortage of components on the European continent, the stakes are high, especially since Europe is still dependent on the major battery manufacturers in Asia, Korea (LG, SK Innovation, Samsung SDI) or Chinese (CATL, BYD).