Lowering the Carbon Footprint of Batteries
A Swedish battery manufacturer, Northvolt, in partnership with Stora Enso, one of the largest private forest owners in the world, has developed a battery for electric vehicles (EV) with an anode made of sustainably raised and harvested wood instead of graphite, paving the way for battery production from a renewable source.
The partners figured out a way to extract lignin, a carbon-rich natural binder that comprises up to 30 percent of many trees, and turn it into a material they call Lignode. According to Stora Enso, by replacing graphite or copper anodes with Lignode, lithium-ion batteries will offer faster charging and discharging, higher cycling stability and more efficient performance in low temperature.
More than 50 percent of the EV’s carbon footprint comes from the manufacture of its battery—both in sourcing raw materials and producing the component. Mining graphite is an expensive and labor-intensive process that requires considerable resources that come from parts of the world where workers’ rights are inadequately protected. While Northvolt’s battery is not on the market yet, this development, along with others like solid-state batteries, may help to reduce the carbon footprint of EVs.