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Redwood Materials is Launching a EV Battery Recycling Program in California with Support From Ford Motor Co & Volvo Cars

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【Summary】Electric vehicle battery recycling startup Redwood Materials is launching a comprehensive battery recycling program in California. The company will establish an efficient and safe and effective way to recycle end-of-life hybrid and electric vehicle battery packs. Automakers Ford Motor Co and Volvo Cars will be the first to directly support the program.

Eric Walz    Feb 17, 2022 10:45 AM PT
Redwood Materials is Launching a EV Battery Recycling Program in California with Support From Ford Motor Co & Volvo Cars

Electric vehicle battery recycling startup Redwood Materials is launching a comprehensive battery recycling program in California. The company will establish an efficient and safe and effective way to recycle end-of-life hybrid and electric vehicle battery packs. 

Automakers Ford Motor Company and Volvo Cars are the first automakers to directly support the program, but Redwood Materials will accept all lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries in the state and welcome other automakers and is welcoming them to join its recycling efforts in California.

Redwood Materials was founded by J.B. Straubel, who co-founded electric automaker Tesla with Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning before Elon Musk joined the company. Straubel was Tesla's first Chief Technical Officer and fifth employee. He worked for Tesla until 2019, but launched battery recycling startup Redwood Materials in 2017.

Redwood's recycling plans with Ford were announced in Sept 2021. The collaboration with Ford will integrate battery recycling into the automaker's domestic EV battery strategy, as it develops more purely electric vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E and Ford F-150 Lightning. Volvo's plans are similar to Ford's.

Redwood believes that in order to make electric vehicles sustainable and truly affordable, pathways for the collection, recycling and remanufacturing end-of-life battery packs into new battery materials need to be established. By joining the partnership today, Ford and Volvo are committed to creating these pathways with Redwood Materials now.  

"We are excited to be strengthening our partnership with Redwood Materials in identifying solutions for electric vehicle batteries that have reached the end of their useful lives," said Ford President and CEO Jim Farley. "This new program with Redwood Materials will help Ford lead America's transition to sustainable and carbon-neutral EV manufacturing and ultimately help make electric vehicles more environmentally responsible and affordable for our customers."

By using locally produced, recycled battery materials, Ford and Volvo can help drive down battery costs, increase battery materials supply and reduce their reliance on imports of raw materials.

Since the state of California has the highest number of EVs on the road than any other place in the U.S. the first major wave of EVs retiring from roads will happen there, according to Redwood.

Redwood Materials says it already collects 6 GWh of lithium-ion batteries or the equivalent of 60,000 EVs annually. But as the first wave of EV batteries reaches the end of their service life in California, the company has been ramping up its processes in preparation to collect and recycle the battery packs. 

The battery recycling plans include working directly with dealers and dismantlers in California to identify and recover end-of-life EV battery packs. Redwood will then safely package, transport, and recycle these batteries at its facility in Nevada for processing. Once processed, the company will then return high quality, recycled materials back into domestic cell production. 

Overtime as the number end-of-life battery packs grows, Redwood expects that these batteries will become valuable assets in helping make EVs more sustainable and affordable. 

Ford's partnership with Redwood builds on its joint venture with with SK Innovation called "BlueOvalSK" that will produce electric vehicle batteries at scale. The new joint venture battery company was announced one day after Ford unveiled its F-150 Lightning Pro electric pickup last May.

In 2019, Tesla's battery partner Panasonic entered into a partnership with Redwood Materials to reclaim the scrap materials generated from making battery cells at Tesla's gigafactory in Nevada. Currently all of the scrap materials left over from battery production is shipped to Redwood's Nevada facility for recycling.

Redwood says its EV battery recycling technology can recover, on average, more than 95% of the elements like nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper. Once recycled these materials can be reused to produce anode copper foil and cathode active materials for future battery production. 

In July 2021, Redwood Materials announced a $700 investment, which it said it will use to build a battery materials factory in the U.S. Redwood will announce a site for its North American battery materials manufacturing facility this year.

The plant will produce up to 100 GWh/year of cathode active materials and anode foil, which is enough for one million electric vehicles by 2025. 

By 2030, Redwood expects its output to scale to 500 GWh/year, which is enough to batteries for five million electric vehicles.

Speaking at a conference in Oct 2020, Redwood Materials founder J.B. Straubel said he wants his company to become the world's top EV battery recycler.

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