The battery market is projected to increase tenfold in the next ten years, especially due to increasing e-mobility solutions, such as electric cars, buses and bicycles. Synthetic graphite, a non-renewable, fossil-based material commonly used in batteries, can be replaced by lignin. Lignin makes up 20–30% of a tree and is a by-product in the production of cellulose fiber. It is one of the largest renewable sources of carbon anywhere, is traceable, and millions of tonnes of it are already being produced in Europe. Stora Enso is the largest kraft lignin producer in Europe, with an annual lignin production capacity of 50,000 tonnes.
Meeting the eco-friendly mindset of future customers
Lignin-based carbon can be used in batteries, typically those used in consumer electronics and the automotive industry, and in large-scale energy storage systems. Stora Enso uses dry lignin to manufacture Lignode and aims to create a European supply chain for the lithium-ion battery industry. Our target is to offer the most sustainable and lowest-impact anode material available, to meet the eco-friendly mindset of future consumers. Our lignin has superior traceability with sustainable raw-material management certificates.
Lignin-based carbon belongs to the category of so-called hard carbons, which were the basis for initial developments in Li-ion battery technologies. Hard carbons from lignin can be compared to other non-graphitic carbon anode materials. The structure of hard carbon in Lignode enable the anode in a battery to be charged and discharged more quickly, compared to traditional graphite. It also allows for better performance at lower temperatures, and is therefore less prone to safety risks in temperatures below freezing.
Together for a fossil-free future
As we know, innovation does not happen in isolation. To serve the fast-growing anode materials market, we are now exploring strategic partnerships to accelerate scale-up and commercialisation to drive self-sufficiency in the European battery supply chain.
The pilot plant for bio-based carbon materials is located at Stora Enso’s Sunila production site in Finland, where lignin has been industrially produced since 2015. The biorefinery’s annual lignin production capacity is 50,000 tonnes, making Stora Enso the largest kraft lignin producer in the world.