Electric Vehicle

Redwood Materials creates the pathways for end-of-life electric vehicles in California

Redwood is launching the electric vehicle battery recycling program, beginning in California, to establish efficient, safe and effective recovery pathways for end-of-life hybrid and electric vehicle battery packs. Ford Motor Company and Volvo Cars are the first automakers to directly support the program, but the company will accept all lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries in the state.  

To make electric vehicles sustainable and affordable, there need to be pathways for end-of-life battery packs to be collected, recycled and remanufactured into new battery materials. Scaling production of EVs, increasingly from recycled materials, domestically, is the only way to create a circular and, therefore, sustainable and secure supply chain to meet the US’ electrification plans, Redwood says.

While the first major wave of end-of-life electric vehicles is still a few years away, Redwood and our initial partners at Ford and Volvo are committed to creating these pathways now.

California has always been a leader in the transition to electric transportation and, as a result, is the oldest and one of the largest electric vehicle markets. When the first major wave of EVs begins to retire from roads, it will happen in California.

When Redwood first announced its partnership with Ford last year, the company said that the initial workstream was to collaborate to determine how to create pathways together for Ford and Lincoln electrified vehicles to come off the road at the end of their lives and be recycled and manufactured into battery materials to make more, locally manufactured, electric vehicles. Volvo, while a new relationship, is similarly focused on ensuring responsible and secure pathways for end-of-life batteries.

Redwood will work directly with dealers and dismantlers in California to identify and recover end-of-life packs. Redwood will then safely package, transport, and recycle these batteries at its facilities in neighboring Northern Nevada, and then return high quality, recycled materials back into domestic cell production.

Overtime, as EOL packs scale, Redwood expects these batteries to become valuable assets that will help make EVs more sustainable and affordable.

In 2021, Redwood announced it would produce strategic battery materials in the US, supplying battery cell manufacturing partners with anode copper foil and cathode active materials. In January 2022, the company announced that its anode copper foil facility at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center will be complete within months and that it will begin producing and delivering product to customers in the first half of this year.

Over the next few years, Redwood will ramp copper foil production to 100 GWh or 250,000 km of product annually—enough copper foil to build more than one million electric vehicles a year. Additionally, this site will house Redwood’s hydrometallurgy recycling operations, which will allow Redwood to feed copper from recycled lithium-ion batteries directly into copper foil production in a closed-loop. Because initially, Redwood’s production of copper foil will outweigh current supply of copper recovered from battery recycling operations, Rdwood will also be sourcing other domestic recycled copper.

Today, the US exports several hundred thousand tons of copper a year to Asia; Redwood’s utilization of this secondary supply will ensure this critical metal stays in the US.

Panasonic will be the first partners who expect to source Redwood’s copper foil. The partnership with Panasonic began in 2019 and since, Redwood has been recycling all Panasonic’s manufacturing scrap from the Tesla Gigafactory. That material will now be recycled, and the copper contained will be remanufactured into anode foil and returned to Panasonic at the Gigafactory. This will mark the first time batteries will be recycled, remanufactured and then returned to the same factory in a fully closed loop, Redwood noted.

As part of the copper foil facility and expanded recycling operations, Redwoods expects to invest $1 billion in Northern Nevada over the coming years and hire more than 500 people at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center site.

Redwood is actively searching for another battery materials campus, focused on cathode production, which it plans to announce this year. At that site, Redwood will spend upwards of $2 billion and scale cathode production to 500 GWh or five million electric vehicles by 2030.

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