The promise of batteries that come from trees

January 3, 2023

Professor Wyatt Tenhaeff.
Professor Wyatt Tenhaeff

Wyatt Tenhaeff, an associate professor of chemical engineering, has also made lignin-derived anodes in laboratory settings. Lignin is “really cool,” he says because it is a byproduct that could have many potential uses. In experiments, he and his colleagues found that they could use the lignin to make an anode with a self-supporting structure, which didn't require glue or a copper-based current collector—a common component in lithium-ion batteries. Despite the fact that this could reduce the cost of lignin-derived carbon anodes, he is skeptical that they can compete commercially with graphite anodes. “I just don’t think it’s going to be a big enough step-change in terms of cost or performance to replace the entrenched graphite,” he says.