Graphite made from wood chips may soon be in your EV battery

A New Zealand-based startup just got $18 million to commercialize graphite made of wood chips for EV batteries in Europe and the US.

Graphite made of wood chips and sawdust

Swedish-Finnish renewable forestry giant Stora Enso, Hong Kong-based battery maker Amperex Technology (ATL), and other partners are investing in CarbonScape, which uses forestry and timber industry byproducts such as wood chips and sawdust to make “biographite.”

CarbonScape explains that biographite is a “sustainable alternative to synthetic (petroleum-based) and natural (mined) graphite,” the raw material that makes up to 30% of the weight of a lithium-ion battery. CarbonScape has been working on its biographite process, which is now patented, for seven years.

Biographite has a carbon negative footprint that saves up to 30 tonnes of CO2 emissions per tonne of material compared to synthetic or mined graphite, CarbonScape says. The wood-based graphite will enable battery makers to cut the carbon footprint of each EV battery by almost 30%, potentially reducing the EV battery sector’s emissions by more than 86 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030.

CarbonScape will use the investment money to scale the business and further develop plans for production facilities in Europe and the US.

Electrek’s Take

This is intriguing but of course pretty early stages. CarbonScape isn’t going to share the details of its patented process, and there are a lot of bridges that the company will need to cross to get biographite to market in Europe and the US. But this is a good start.

Will automakers buy in? We don’t yet know. But there’s a need for graphite alternatives – a global supply deficit of of graphite is expected by 2030. We know that two other companies with clout are buying in, and Stora Enso is also working with Northvolt on a similar technology with wood products in batteries. So we’re going to watch this space.

Read more: Wood-based batteries? Northvolt is working to develop this sustainable material technology

Photo: CarbonScape

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