Lithium batteries are the best performing and most used energy storage system used in e-mobility, laptops and other electronic devices. However, the Earth's supply in lithium is by far not enough to satisfy our demand if we would like to replace any combustion motor by batteries. We urgently need a renewable alternative.
This alternative could well come from the paper industry. Each tree contains about 20-30 per cent lignin, a biopolymer which hardens the wood. A by-product of paper processing is black liquor which contains high amounts of lignin and at present is burned to obtain energy and heat. There are better opportunities to use this so-called waste. A Polish-Swedish research team has now successfully developed a cathode made of lignin to store electricity. As soon as the anode is invented as well, the way is free for producing batteries from a renewable, widely available and abundant raw material.