Electric car batteries soon wear out: why and how?

What if wood was the future of drums? At least that’s what the companies Northvolt and Stora Enso think, which are developing a battery that uses carbon made from renewable wood. A way to reduce carbon footprint and costs.

The emergence of the electric car and the pace at which car manufacturers are rushing into it is pushing an entire industry to look for solutions that can make the future as clean as possible. And attention is particularly focused on the production of batteries for electric cars. A true key element of the car, we know that depending on the way it is produced, it can induce polluting emissions that are not in line with the very principle of “clean car”.

The company Northvolt, based in Sweden, thus specializes in the production of sustainable battery systems. The company, which already has contracts with major manufacturers such as BMW, Volvo and Volkswagen, has just announced that it has teamed up with Stora Enso, one of the largest private forest owners in the world, to develop a battery made from … wood !

Reduce carbon footprint and costs

To be a bit more specific, the aim of the two companies is to create batteries using lignin-based carbon, produced with renewable wood from northern forests. This material would thus replace the graphite that is mainly used for the design of anodes on lithium-ion batteries. The stated goal is actually twofold: both reduce the carbon footprint and costs of industrializing these batteries. How ? Quite simply by developing the first battery whose anode would come from 100% European raw materials.

As explained in the press release published on the occasion of the partnership between the two companies, lignin is a biomolecule found in the cell walls of dry plants. Trees make up 20 to 30% of it, making it one of the largest renewable sources of carbon in existence.

Task sharing

Although the two companies have entered into an agreement to jointly develop this technology, each retains its expertise. On one side Stora Enso will supply the lignin-based anode material called Lignode, from sustainably managed forests. On the other hand, Northvolt will handle the cell design and battery manufacturing process.

The joint development of batteries with Northvolt marks a step in our journey to serve the growing battery market renewable anode materials made from trees explains Johanna Hagelberg, Executive Vice President for Biomaterials at Stora Enso. ” Our lignin-based carbon, Lignode, will secure Europe’s strategic supply of anode feedstock, meeting the need for long-lasting batteries for applications ranging from mobility to stationary energy storage.”.

Northvolt, for its part, through the voice of Emma Nehrenheim, environmental manager of the company, welcomes the positive effect of this project: ” Through this partnership we explore a new source of sustainable raw materials and expand the European battery value chain, while by developing cheaper battery chemistry. This is an exciting demonstration of how our quest for a sustainable battery industry goes hand in hand with creating a positive impact on both society and cost.”.

8 billion euros, but no date announced

It now remains to be seen when this battery technology will arrive in our electric cars. And so far, the two actors, themselves full of good will, remain quite discreet on the subject. Keep in mind that Northvolt has not yet produced batteries on a large scale at this time. There is a pilot line, but production of commercial batteries is not planned until 2025 at the earliest.

Northvolt is a company valued at around $8 billion, with capital made up of big names like Volkswagen. It is therefore not a startup likely to disappear overnight, so this announcement should be taken seriously.

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