Redwood, an obscure startup company in Carson City, Nevada led by the former Tesla chief technology officer J.B. Straubel, said today it is launching a pilot electric vehicle battery-recycling program in California, to establish a recovery system that is “efficient, safe and effective 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 Redwood will accept all lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries in the state and allow other automakers to join the program. Notably absent today is Honda, which started recycling rare-earth metals from batteries a decade ago, as well as Volkswagen Group, General Motors and others. (Ford – EVs Present Environmental, Human Rights Issues)
Europe* right now is the fastest growing EV market globally, and Redwood has a small presence there.Last June it raised $700,000,000 from investors – mostly funds – on the bet that it could be a thriving business, Tesla’s problems notwithstanding. (AutoInformed: Honda to Recycle Rare Earth Metals from Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries in World’s First Mass Production Process; Volkswagen Group Starts Small Scale EV Battery Recycling; Honda and JMC Nickel-Metal Hydride Recycling Yields 99% Pure Rare Earth Metals in World’s First Mass Production Process; Battery Handlers or Sorters Untrained, at Risk from Lithium)
Since environmental leader California is the home of the largest existing fleet of EVs in the US, arguably the world, this experiment – if successful – will reduce the environmental impact and ultimately the cost of EVs. The first major surge of end-of-life electric vehicles is a few years away, but Redwood is already working the system. Annually, 6 GWh of lithium-ion batteries – equivalent to 60,000 EVs, are handled by Redwood in Nevada. It claims that is most of the recycled lithium-ion batteries in North America today. “We’ve been ramping our processes in preparation for the first wave of these vehicles to come off roads and we’re ready to support the battery market in identifying and creating pathways to collect battery packs,” Redwood said.
“We will work directly with dealers and dismantlers in California to end-of-life packs. Redwood will then safely package, transport, and recycle these batteries at our facilities in neighboring Northern Nevada, and then return high quality, recycled materials back into domestic cell production. Overtime, as EOL packs scale, we expect these batteries to become valuable assets that will help make EVs more sustainable and affordable,” claimed Redwood.
*EU – 1000 GWh of battery cell production is planned in the EU to back EV sales that are expected to account for nearly 30% of total passenger cars by 2025.