Swedish sustainable battery startup Northvolt teams up with Stora Enso to develop wood-based batteries for EVs from the Nordic forest
In late 2019, we wrote Northvolt after the maker of electric vehicle batteries received a €5.8 million investment from EIT InnoEnergy to support Northvolt’s target of using 50% recycled materials in all its new battery cells by 2030.
The funding also went to support Northvolt’s “Revolt” program to implement latest discoveries in efficient materials recovery methods and the construction of a pilot battery recycling plant, followed by a full-scale version at Northvolt’s site in Skellefteå. Fast forward about three years later, the Volkswagen-backed sustainable battery startup is now working to develop wood-based batteries for electric vehicles.
Today, Northvolt announced it is partnering with Finnish-Swedish cellulose and paper company Stora Enso and Northvolt partner to develop sustainable wood-based batteries that incorporate components produced using lignin-based hard carbon produced with renewable wood sourced from forests in the Nordic region.
As part of the joint venture agreement, the two companies work together on the production of a battery containing an anode made from something called lignin-based hard carbon. An anode is a crucial part of a battery, alongside the cathode and electrolyte.
“The aim is to develop the world’s first industrialized battery featuring anode sourced entirely from European raw materials, lowering both the carbon footprint and the cost,” the companies said in a statement.
“The joint battery development with Northvolt marks a step on our journey to serve the fast-growing battery market with renewable anode materials made from trees. Our lignin-based hard carbon, Lignode® by Stora Enso, will secure the strategic European supply of anode raw material, serving the sustainable battery needs for applications from mobility to stationary energy storage,” says Johanna Hagelberg, Executive Vice President for Biomaterials at Stora Enso.
Stora Enso was formed in 1998 through the merger of the Finnish company Enso Oyj and the Swedish company Stora Kopparbergs Bergslags Aktiebolag (STORA).
Both companies bring key components, competence, and expertise to the battery partnership. Stora Enso will provide its lignin-based anode material Lignode, originating from sustainably managed forests, while Northvolt will drive cell design, production process development, and scale-up of the technology.
“With this partnership, we are exploring a new source of sustainable raw material and expanding the European battery value chain, while also developing less expensive battery chemistry. It is an exciting demonstration of how our pursuit of a sustainable battery industry goes hand-in-hand with creating a positive impact both on society and cost,” says Emma Nehrenheim, Chief Environmental Officer at Northvolt.
Lignin is a plant-derived polymer found in the cell walls of dry-land plants. Trees are composed of 20–30% of lignin, which acts as a natural and strong binder. It is one of the biggest renewable sources of carbon anywhere.
Stora Enso’s pilot plant for bio-based carbon materials is located at the Group’s Sunila production site in Finland, where lignin has been industrially produced since 2015. The annual lignin production capacity is 50,000 tonnes, making Stora Enso the largest kraft lignin producer in the world. The Group is also evaluating its first industrial production of Lignode at the Sunila site through a feasibility study.
Founded in 2016 by CEO Peter Carlsson and Paolo Cerruti with the mission to enable the European transition to a decarbonized future, Northvolt develops sustainable lithium-ion batteries , and recycling to support clean energy. Northvolt industrial partners and customers include ABB, BMW Groupe, Scania, Siemens, Vattenfall, Vestas, and backer, the Volkswagen Group.
In addition, the Stockholm, Sweden-based tech startup also provides electrification and renewable energy storage designed for lithium-ion battery plants to produce batteries for electric vehicles. Since its inception six years ago, Northvolt has made swift progress on its mission to deliver the world’s greenest lithium-ion battery with a minimal CO2 footprint on the highest ambitions for recycling.