Swedish group evaluating lignin-based CF for automotive structures

KTH Royal Institute of Technology has developed a sub-scale vehicle that demonstrates use of lignin-based carbon fiber in the roof and battery electrodes.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden), the Swedish researcher institute Innventia and Swerea, a research group for industrial renewal and sustainable development, report that they have developed a sub-scale prototype vehicle that features the use of lignin-based carbon fiber in the roof and the battery electrodes.

Most carbon fiber today is derived from polyacrylonitrile (PAN) precursor. Lignin, a constituent of the cell walls of nearly all plants that grow on dry land, is being evaluated as an alternative and less expensive precursor source. 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 body components and batteries could be combined to simultaneously manage mechanical loads and store electrical energy.

Contact Lindbergh direction for more information: goeran.lindbergh@ket.kth.se.

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