Northvolt, Supported By Volkswagen, Is Developing Wood-Based Batteries For Electric Vehicles

Northvolt will collaborate with Stora Enso to develop batteries that include components made from wood taken from Nordic woods.

A joint development agreement between the companies will see them collaborate on the manufacturing of a battery with an anode built of lignin-based hard carbon. Along with the cathode and electrolyte, an anode is an important component of a battery.

Northvolt and Stora Enso, who specialise in packaging and paper goods, identified lignin as a “plant-derived polymer present in the cell walls of dry-land plants” in a statement issued Friday. According to the firms, trees are composed of 20% to 30% lignin, which acts as a binder.

“The aim is to develop the world’s first industrialized battery featuring [an] anode sourced entirely from European raw materials,” the companies said.

Stora Enso will deliver Lignode, its lignin-based anode material, according to the plans. Northvolt will concentrate on cell design, manufacturing process development, and technological scale-up.

The Lignode would be sourced from “sustainably managed trees,” according to the firms. According to Stora Enso, it is “one of the world’s largest private forest owners.”

Stora Enso’s executive vice president for biomaterials, Johanna Hagelberg, stated that the company’s lignin-based hard carbon would “secure the strategic European supply of anode raw material” and meet “the sustainable battery needs for applications ranging from mobility to stationary energy storage.”

The attempt to generate battery materials from a variety of sources comes at a time when major European economies are laying out plans to transition away from diesel-powered road vehicles.

The United Kingdom intends to phase out the sale of new diesel and gasoline cars and vans by 2030. It will require all new automobiles and vans to have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035. Similar goals are being pursued by the European Union, which the United Kingdom will leave on January 31, 2020.

As the number of electric vehicles on our roads grows, battery supply will become a more significant — and competitive — cog in the automotive industry.

Earlier this year, Volvo Cars’ CEO told CNBC that battery availability would be “one of the things that becomes scarce in the years to come.”

Northvolt, based in Sweden, recently announced that its first gigafactory, Northvolt Ett, had begun commercial deliveries to European customers.

The company claims to have contracts worth more than $55 billion from companies such as Volvo Cars, BMW, and Volkswagen.

Gigafactories are large-scale production facilities for batteries for electric vehicles. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, is largely credited with coining the term.

Northvolt recently announced a $1.1 billion financial injection from a variety of investors, including Volkswagen and Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

According to the International Energy Agency, 6.6 million electric vehicles will be sold in 2021. EV sales reached 2 million in the first quarter of 2022, a 75 percent increase over the same period in the previous year.

(Adapted from CNBC.com)

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