Swedish researchers say they have produced the world’s first model car with a roof and battery made from wood-based carbon fiber.
The demo is a joint project of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the Swedish researcher institute Innventia and Swerea, a research group for industrial renewal and sustainable development.
The key ingredient in the carbon fiber composite is lignin, a constituent of the cell walls of nearly all plants that grow on dry land. Lignin is the second-most abundant natural polymer in the world, surpassed only by cellulose.
Göran Lindbergh, professor of chemical engineering at KTH, says that the use of wood lignin as an electrode material came from previous research he did with Innventia. Lignin batteries can be produced from renewable raw materials, in this case, the byproduct from paper pulp production.
“The lightness of the material is especially important for electric cars because then batteries last longer,” Lindbergh says. “Lignin-based carbon fiber is cheaper than ordinary carbon fiber. Otherwise, batteries made with lignin are indistinguishable from ordinary batteries.”
Lindbergh says that eventually, carbon fiber bodywork and batteries could be combined to simultaneously manage mechanical loads and store electrical energy.