Tesla co-founder JB Straubel’s company Redwood Materials plan to produce sustainable battery materials for electric cars

Tesla co-founder JB Straubel has announced that his new company Redwood Materials plan to produce sustainable battery materials. Their mission is to create a circular supply chain for electric vehicles (EVs) and clean energy products, that make them more sustainable.

Ultimately, Redwood are looking to drive down the price of batteries which are the most expensive component in electric cars. This in turn the will be more sustainable help to drive down the price of electric cars.

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JB Straubel, Redwood Materials, said: “We’ve shared a lot about our recycling work which is certainly a core component of the battery sustainability equation but is only the tip of the iceberg for Redwood.

“To make electric vehicles and energy storage products fully sustainable and affordable we need to actually close the loop at their end of life.”

This means not just collecting and recycling the batteries but also continuing further, fully refining the materials recovered and then manufacturing them back into precision battery materials to use those raw materials again. This is something President, Joe Biden has outlined as part of his $174 billion government injection for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

The existing battery supply chain is a complex system that requires materials to travel tens of thousands of miles before they make their way into a final product. In looking at the supply chain for a single component such as cathode, the logistics required alone contribute enormously to the overall cost and carbon footprint.  

Redwood plan to produce strategic battery materials in the US, first supplying battery cell manufacturing partners with anode copper foil and cathode active materials.

Redwood hopes to transform the lithium-ion battery supply chain by offering large-scale sources of these domestic materials produced from as many recycled batteries as available and augmented with sustainably mined material.

These two products will become a closed-loop and Redwood want to re-use all of the critical lithium, copper, nickel and cobalt that we already recover from old batteries.

In the future, these materials will be built more and more from recycled battery content every year but there’s a need to quickly ramp up the domestic battery materials supply chain. This will be achieved using the highest possible percent of local, recycled raw materials because this is the best way to meet the US’s 2030 electrification goals.  

By early 2022, Redwood will announce a site for a North American battery materials manufacturing facility. This will aim to produce 100GWh per year of cathode active materials and anode foil for one million electric vehicles by 2025.

JB Straubel, Redwood Materials, added: “By 2030, we expect our production output to scale to 500GWh per year of materials which would enable enough batteries to power five million electric vehicles or nearly half of the US’ annual vehicle production.

“Sustainable and affordable battery materials are the missing piece of the puzzle to create the fully closed-loop supply chain needed to build the world’s electric vehicles and clean energy products.

“We’re excited to share more in the coming weeks about these products and the partners that will join us as we build the future that we all want and need.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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