Batteries from trees – the batteries of tomorrow

Batteries from trees - the batteries of tomorrow by Lauri Lehtonen

Photo credit: Move 2022, Jennifer Moyes Photography.

“If you don’t change the system, the system will continue as is.” The batteries of today are made of graphite, which is either mined or made from petroleum-based resources. We want to replace graphite with something renewable, something that grows back – batteries made from trees.

The battery industry is expanding and expanding quickly – however it doesn’t come free of sustainability challenges in terms of raw materials. In today’s world, we need to find sustainable solutions to help the transition away from fossil-based materials.

“One of the great challenges we have in today’s battery industry is that lithium-ion batteries use graphite. Graphite is a fossil carbon which is extracted through mining techniques or synthetically produced, and subsequently creates social and environmental consequences.”  

Stora Enso’s Lauri Lehtonen, Head of Lignode®, was on stage in June at MOVE 2022 talking about how we can make batteries out of trees. One key component in this equation is lignin and being able to leverage its full potential.

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 fiber, it is one of the biggest renewable sources of carbon anywhere. Side streams like lignin have traditionally been burnt for energy, so by turning it into hard carbon we are making sure that more of the tree is put to good use in the form of Lignode® by Stora Enso.

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