Northvolt is a Volkswagen-backed company to develop wooden batteries for electric vehicles

This photo from 2007 shows logs and wood chips outside the Stora Enso paper mill in Finland. The company says it is “one of the largest private forest owners in the world”.

Susan Plunkett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Northvolt will partner with Stora Enso to develop batteries that integrate components produced using wood extracted from forests in the Nordic region.

A joint development agreement between the companies will have them work together on a battery that has an anode made of something called lignin-based carbon steel. The anode is an important part of the battery, along with the cathode and electrolyte.

In a statement Friday, electric car battery maker Northvolt and Stora Enso — which specializes in packaging and paper products, among other things — described lignin as a “plant-derived polymer found in the cell walls of dryland plants.” According to the companies, trees are made from 20% to 30% lignin, which acts as a binder.

“The goal is to develop the world’s first industrial battery [an] The companies said the anode is entirely sourced from European raw materials.”

After plans are broken, it will provide Stora Enso Lignode, a lignin-based anode material. Northvolt will focus on cell design, production process development and technology scaling.

The companies said the Lignode would come from “sustainably managed forests”. Stora Enso says it is “one of the largest private forest owners in the world”.

The lignin-based solid carbon would “secure the strategic European supply of anode raw materials” and serve “the sustainable battery needs of applications from mobility to stationary energy storage,” said Joanna Hagelberg, executive vice president of biomaterials at Stora Enso.

Read more about electric cars from CNBC Pro

The attempt to develop battery materials from a range of sources comes at a time when major European economies are making plans to move away from road-based vehicles that use diesel and petrol.

The UK wants to stop selling new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2030. From 2035 it will require all zero-emission cars and vans. The European Union – which the United Kingdom left on January 31, 2020 – is pursuing similar goals.

As the number of electric vehicles on our roads increases, battery supply will become an increasingly important – and competitive – factor in the automotive sector.

Earlier this year, the CEO of Volvo Cars told CNBC that he believes battery supplies “will be one of the things that will become in short supply in the coming years.”

Sweden-based Northvolt recently said its first gigfactory, Northvolt Ett, has begun commercial deliveries to European customers. The company says it has contracts worth more than $55 billion from companies such as Volvo Cars, BMW and Volkswagen.

Giga factories are facilities that produce batteries for electric vehicles on a large scale. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is widely credited as coining the term.

Northvolt recently announced a $1.1 billion funding increase, with a group of investors — including Volkswagen and Goldman Sachs Asset Management — participating in the capital raise.

According to the International Energy Agency, sales of electric vehicles reached 6.6 million in 2021. In the first quarter of 2022, sales of electric vehicles reached 2 million, up 75% compared to the first three months of 2021.

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