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Wait… what? Wood-based batteries for the win!

Wait… what? Wood-based batteries for the win!
Source: storaenso.com

Lignin, an abundant by-product from the production of cellulose fibres, is being trialled as a green alternative to fossil-based graphite in sustainable lithium-ion battery production.

Lignin-based carbon material for use in batteries has many benefits

Lignin, a material found in the wood of our plants, is being trialled as a way to produce sustainable battery power. Finnish biomaterials supplier Stora Enso have built a production facility costing €10 million ($11.3m) that will create renewable bio-based carbon by turning trees into batteries. But don’t panic — lignin is a byproduct left over from the cellulose fibre production process, and does not require new trees cut down for the purpose. StoraEnso use only wood from sustainably certified European forests at their facility.

Trees are composed of 20-30% lignin, where it acts as a binder and gives wood its stiffness and resistance to rotting. Being a side stream in the production of cellulose fibre, it is one of the biggest renewable sources of carbon anywhere. Most commonly side streams like lignin are burned for energy, so by turning it into hard carbon they are ensuring more of the tree is put to good use.
Hard carbon made from trees is sustainable. Trees are composed of 20-30% lignin, where it acts as a binder and gives wood its stiffness and resistance to rotting. Being a side stream in the production of cellulose fibre, it is one of the biggest renewable sources of carbon anywhere. Most commonly side streams like lignin are burned for energy, so by turning it into hard carbon they are ensuring more of the tree is put to good use. Source: storaenso.com

Lignode: The future of batteries is already here

It is necessary to revolutionise battery technology in order to sustainably cover the needs for energy storage in an electrified future. In ten years, the battery market is expected to tenfold. So, with increasing demands for electrification and rising standards of living, it’s essential that we find new and smarter technologies to meet the future.

One of the challenges of today’s lithium-ion batteries is the use of graphite. Graphite is a fossil carbon which is either mined or made from other fossil-based materials. The extraction through mining is often also done under less than satisfactory conditions, with social and environmental consequences.

At Stora Enso, they have therefore dedicated themselves to coming up with a solution where graphite is replaced with hard carbon from lignin.

Source: StoraEnso

The annual capacity of producing industrial lignin at Stora Enso’s Sunila Mill is 50,000 tonnes per year. Lignin has been produced there at industrial scale since 2015, and the mill also produces 375,000 tonnes of pulp. Today it has been complemented with a pilot plant, where they’re turning lignin into hard carbon.
Sunila Mill in Finland is the world’s biggest lignin producer. The annual capacity of producing industrial lignin at Stora Enso’s Sunila Mill is 50,000 tonnes per year. Lignin has been produced there at industrial scale since 2015, and the mill also produces 375,000 tonnes of pulp. Today it has been complemented with a pilot plant, where they’re turning lignin into hard carbon. Source: storaenso.com

Lignode is a bio-based, cost-competitive and high-performance material to replace graphite

Applications of the wood-based Lignode product are said to include batteries for electric vehicles, consumer electronics and large-scale energy storage systems.

According to Stora Enso, the global battery market is projected to grow tenfold over the next decade as battery producers seek more sustainable materials for the electrification of mobility and reduced carbon emissions. 

The company anticipates its carbon based-anode materials, produced from converted lignin separated from wood, can be a more sustainable replacement for graphite-based battery anodes. 

“With our pilot plant now ramping up operations, Stora Enso is entering a new value chain in supplying more sustainable anode materials for batteries. With Lignode, we can provide a bio-based, cost-competitive and high-performance material to replace the conventionally used graphite. To serve the fast-growing anode materials market, we are now exploring strategic partnerships to accelerate scale-up and commercialisation in Europe,” says Markus Mannström, executive VP of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division. 

Source: CompositesWorld

1) Already a scalable model for commercial production. 2) Sustainably sourced from certified European forests. 3)Renewable. 4) Faster charging and discharging. 5) Better performance at low temperatures.
Main advantages with hard carbon. 1) Already a scalable model for commercial production. 2) Sustainably sourced from certified European forests. 3)Renewable. 4) Faster charging and discharging. 5) Better performance at low temperatures. Source: Storaenso

What is lignin and how is it made into batteries?

Lignin is nature’s second most common macromolecule after cellulose, deposited in the cell wall of plants to make their structure firm and woody to prevent them from rotting. It makes up around a third of all wood’s total composition.

Finnish biomaterials supplier Stora Enso have been long-term investors in sustainable research and development funding with investments of €140 million last year. Confidence levels are high that the carbon contained within the non-toxic material can be used to replace the fossil fuels and mined metals found in lithium-ion batteries, which usually require graphite to function.

Lignin is separated from wood during the production of cellulose fibres from its pulp. It’s then refined into a lightweight carbon powder which is made into electrode sheets and combined with other battery components in order to replace graphite.

The company has been producing lignin industrially at Sunila Mill since 2015. Their annual production capacity is 50,000 tonnes, making Stora Enso the world’s largest producer of kraft lignin. The company say expanding lignin into its own production quarters, along with patenting the technology under the title Lignode®, cement Stora’s intentions for a future of smarter battery travel. 

Source: EuroNews 

When a battery is charged, lithium ions in the cathode move into the anode, where they connect with the carbon particles and are stored until the battery is discharged – which is what happens when you use your electronical device. Today, the material used in the anode is often graphitic carbon – which is a strictly layered material that can have slow charging times. Stora Enso can replace this fossil-based graphite with hard carbon from trees, which brings with it both technical and environmental benefits.
How it works. A lithium-ion battery consists of a positive electrode, a cathode, and a negative electrode – called an anode. When a battery is charged, lithium ions in the cathode move into the anode, where they connect with the carbon particles and are stored until the battery is discharged – which is what happens when you use your electronical device. Today, the material used in the anode is often graphitic carbon – which is a strictly layered material that can have slow charging times. Stora Enso can replace this fossil-based graphite with hard carbon from trees, which brings with it both technical and environmental benefits. Source: Storaenso.com
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