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Battery anodes from wood: a sustainable innovation?

Among the many new developments in the wood industry, we found this important news about the future of batteries: will it really be possible to make anodes from wood?

Certainly it would be an important innovation to make our future more sustainable, because the material from which these anodes are made comes mainly from wood scraps. Let’s see some more information together.

A new material made from wood shavings and sawdust to reduce CO2 emissions.

The battery industry is searching for innovative solutions to deal with the growing request for graphite, which is fundamental for the production of today’s anodes.

An interesting development comes from the Finnish-Swedish giant Stora Enso, a global producer of cellulose pulp and paper, in collaboration with the battery manufacturer Northvolt and the company CarbonScape, which is specialised in reducing CO2 emissions related to anode production. These companies have joined forces to develop ‘biographite’, a new material made from by-products of forestry and wood processing, such as shavings., sawdust and other waste.

The revolutionary potential of lignin for new batteries.

Lignin, a by-product from the production of cellulose fibre, is a renewable and traceable resource, and is the residue from the wood processing process.
Lignin, which is present in about 30% of trees, is mainly composed of carbon. This element is an ideal material for making the anode, a vital component in batteries. Unlike conventional lithium-ion batteries that use graphite, lignin works in a similar way, anchoring cellulose fibres together.

But is using lignin good for the planet and our technological development?

Stora Enso has identified five key advantages of this lignin-based renewable energy. These include:

  • scalability (the availability of resources is really wide),
  • sustainability through certification of the European forests from which the material is obtained,
  • renewability that removes the reliance on Chinese battery production,
  • the fastest recharge
  • and better performance at lower temperatures, opening up new perspectives for the electric vehicle sector.

Italy and research on the use of lignin in batteries.

In 2022, an Italian research team, led by the Polytechnic of Milan, published a revolutionary document on the use of lignin in battery electrolytes. This component, placed between the cathode and the anode, plays a crucial role facilitating the flow of electrochemical ions, while preventing electron rebound and thus helping to improve the overall performance of batteries.

Will it be the era of the biographite?

This bio-based material represents a sustainable alternative to both directly mined natural graphite and synthetic graphite, which is derived from the processing of hydrocarbons.

After seven years of research, CarbonScape has developed an efficient production method for biographite that is currently patented.

Biographite would save 30 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of material compared to synthetic or mined graphite.

Since graphite is approximately 30% of a battery, the introduction of biographite could significantly reduce overall emissions from the industry. It is estimated that the potential reduction of CO2 released into the atmosphere could reach almost 90 million tonnes per year by 2030.

Wood, what a wonder: a protagonist in our company is also a protagonist in the future of the planet!

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