Sweden is as Green as Their Trees

The days leading up to our departure of Stockholm there was one company that really stood out as leading the way for innovation and sustainability. Northvolt is a company that is focusing on changing the future of how batteries are made, maintained, and recycled. They’re building the world’s first and largest battery factory that is equivalent of a semiconductor. This large scale of economy will reduce the cost of batteries making electric cars more affordable. In addition, the factory will be based in Sweden whose power supply is run primarily off of hydro, and also, solar, wind, and gas. Sweden uses no fossil fuels to power their energy grid thereby reducing cost from renewable and sustainable power sources.

Northvolt will also be revolutionizing the way that batteries are recycled. Currently, batteries are burned in order to remove the metal cations, but this creates subpar quality for reuse in batteries and thus, they are often used for asphalt on roads. Batteries are currently burned because it is costly to extract the metals and other recyclable parts because batteries are not uniformly made from the same materials. Therefore, it is unknown what chemical compositions exist within which is the reason for the generalized recycling process. Northvolt is creating a chemical extraction process that would remove the metal from the batteries causing less damage, if at all. They are able to create this process because they would control the battery making process from as far back to the mining of the lithium and other precious metals. The metals would be recycled for use in other batteries, reducing the cost of batteries thereby making it more affordable, as well as, lowering the amount of lithium, cobalt, copper and other precious metals that would be necessary to mine.

Innovation in today's market has to include sustainability. As the world looks to solve its solutions of human excess and the damages that it has caused, companies such as Northvolt will be leading the future. Electric cars, planes, buses, trains, bikes, etc. are becoming more practical everyday thanks to companies like these. In the next 10 to 15 years we could see changes in the way that society operates and thinks about what it means to live in a sustainable world. Stockholm as a city, is already starting to think about this trend and is helping to push innovation forward towards sustainable energy.

When we were finished with our business tours, we toured Gamla Stan more and went on a boat cruise around the Baltic Sea surrounding Stockholm and the connecting Lake Mälaren. Lining the seaside were apartment complexes, which are unique because all food waste is disposed in special waste bins which transport the waste underground. Then the waste is converted into compost which is then sent to farmers as fertilizer. Also, the apartment complexes are considered as passive housing meaning that they emit less carbon emissions than the standard apartment complexes. Sweden is known as the greenest country in Europe and is number one at recycling. Their apartment complexes lining the water reiterates Sweden’s green title.


Team 17-4