Kiwi technology turns discarded woodchips into sustainable EV batteries

Kiwi technology turns discarded woodchips into sustainable EV batteries

By Ashmeeta Subra  March 12th, 2024

A company in New Zealand is on the forefront of transforming the electric vehicle battery landscape with synthetic graphite (biographite) made from forest industry scraps.


Biographite battery innovator CarbonScape creates the ‘biographite’ using discarded woodchips that are transformed through thermo-catalytic graphitisation, an environmentally friendly process that is more economical and environmentally friendly over traditional graphite production methods. The company has proven this synthetic graphite can then be used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, reducing their overall impact on the environment.  

Most of the world’s graphite is sourced from a long and centralised supply chain in China, contributing to environmental issues like pollution and carbon emissions. The New Zealand-based company hopes to disrupt this by providing a sustainable alternative to meet the rising demand for graphite in Europe and North America.   

CarbonScape’s biographite is produced by heating forestry by-products like woodchips to create charcoal, which can be catalysed and purified into battery anode-quality graphite. This innovative approach is a more sustainable option that utilises widely available and renewable feedstocks, while also capturing carbon emissions that would otherwise be released during the natural decomposition of these materials.  

Company CEO Ivan Williams pointed out that CarbonScape's technology offers both economic efficiencies and environmental benefits, as biographite production emits significantly less carbon dioxide equivalent emissions compared to fossil-fuel based feedstocks such as coal tar pitch, petroleum coke, and fossil fuel-powered processes.

“As we use a widely available feedstock, we can also site production plants nearby battery and cell, and EV manufacturers, further boosting supply chain security while delivering additional economic efficiencies and environmental benefits,” Williams explained

For every 1,000 kilograms of biographite produced, CarbonScape's technology removes the equivalent of 2,700 kilograms of carbon emissions, making it a climate-positive alternative for lithium-ion batteries prevalent in many EVs.   

Despite critics' concerns about woodchip supply and cost-effectiveness, Williams noted that using less than 5 per cent of forestry industry by-products in Europe and North America could meet half the projected global graphite demand for grid-scale and EV batteries by 2030.  While the material is currently produced in a pilot plant in New Zealand, it will soon also be manufactured in commercial biographite plants based in Europe and North America.  

Projections indicate that the world will be facing a global supply deficit of 777,000 tonnes (approximately 777 million kilograms) of graphite. As the EV market continues to grow, CarbonScapes’s biographite offers a reliable and eco-friendly solution that could meet the rising global demand for graphite in EV batteries. 

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Positive Actions

Ashmeeta Subra

With background in international relations and marketing communications, Ashmeeta is excited to use her skills to encourage positive environmental actions through Planet Ark. She believes that by taking small actions, we can help make a big difference and be good stewards of our planet. Outside of work, she loves spending time in nature and enjoying downtime at the beach.

Related Stories

Stay up to date

Whether you're looking for positive inspiration at home, at work or in the community you’ll find something in our suite of e-newsletters.