Stora Enso

STORA ENSO FROM WOOD BATTERIES TO ELECTRIC CARS

Stora Enso responds to the demand of the world battery market by developing renewable alternatives to the needs of the automotive industry, for example. A test facility is currently being built at the Sunila factory in Kotka, where renewable wood-based coal will be produced. The global battery market is projected to increase tenfold in five years, in particular as a result of increased electronic mobility. By converting wood-separated lignin into hard carbon-based anodematerials for lithium-ion batteries, non-renewable, synthetic graphite commonly used in batteries can be replaced.

LCD display powered by lignin-based battery.

The test facility responds to the growing demand on the world battery market. In Sunila, the factory’s special dry lignin will be used to use graphite substitute material for the needs of consumer electronics and the automotive industry, among others. Stora Enso is constantly developing solutions for replacing fossil materials with renewables and investing in the development of innovations made from renewable wood. The company invests more than EUR 140 million annually in product development.

Lignin is the second most common macromolecule of nature after cellulose. It is present in all plants, and it accounts for up to a third of the composition of the tree. Lignin is a renewable and non-toxic raw material whose origin can be traced back to the forest. The carbon contained in lignin can be used to replace non-renewable carbon. Lignin-based carbon can be used in batteries, which are typically used in consumer electronics, automotive and also in large energy storage systems.

“We will continue our long-term innovation efforts to fully exploit wood and replace fossil-based materials with renewable materials. The test facility will be built to make greater use of biomass-separated, dried lignin. We strive to replace fossil-based, rare and expensive materials with renewable alternatives,” says Lauri Lehtonen, Innovation Director at Biomaterials Division at Stora Enso.

The battery market is growing in the world’s battery market and demand for high-quality, affordable and responsible materials is on the rise. More environmentally responsible material solutions are wanted in both the automotive industry and consumer electronics. The global battery market is projected to grow rapidly, especially as a result of increased electronic mobility, such as electric cars, buses and bicycles. The test facility to be built at the Sunila plant is an investment in the future that fossil materials can be made from renewable material, i.e. wood. Stora Enso announced in July 2019 that it would invest EUR 10 million in the manufacture of bio-based carbon materials in Sunila. The test facility will be completed at the beginning of 2021.

– We are developing alternatives to non-renewable and scarce raw materials. The Sunila plant is a fine example of how we develop and commercialise bio-based chemical media and by-products from the wood industry. We have invested in exploiting the potential of lignin for a long time and now the development culminates in a unique Sunila experimental plant,” says Kari Nikunen, Director of Test Factories from Stora Enso.

Kari Nikunen

Stora Enso has produced lignin industrially at the Sunila plant since 2015. The annual production capacity is 50,000 tonnes, making Stora Enso the world’s largest producer of kraftlignin. “We believe that the use of a highly available renewable raw material – i.e. wood – is crucial in order to find more sustainable and affordable alternatives to fossil or extracted materials that are limited in the world,” Lehtonen sums up.

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