Redwood Materials, the company founded in 2017 in Carson City, Nevada by JB Straubel (Tesla co-founder and former CTO), announced a plan to produce battery materials on a mass scale in the U.S.
The company intends to supply battery cell manufacturing partners with strategic battery materials, starting with anode copper foil and cathode active materials.
The goal is to produce these materials from recycled batteries and thus create a circular supply chain for electric vehicles and clean energy products. However, initially, the production will rely on mining (as there are simply not enough old batteries for recycling in an expanding EV/ESS market).
"Redwood will produce strategic battery materials in the US, first supplying battery cell manufacturing partners with anode copper foil and cathode active materials. We plan 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 re-use all of the critical lithium, copper, nickel and cobalt that we already recover from old batteries! These materials will be built from more and more recycled battery content every year but in the immediate future, we need to ramp EV production faster than the number of existing EVs will reach end of life and therefore, be available for recycling.
Quickly ramping up a domestic battery materials supply chain and using the highest possible percent of local, recycled raw materials is the best way we can meet the US’s 2030 electrification goals."
Local production, based on recycling, is expected to be much simpler, more viable and environmentally friendlier than today's supply chain:
100 GWh/year by 2025
In early 2022, Redwood Materials will announce a site for the North American battery materials manufacturing facility with an annual output of 100 GWh of cathode active materials and anode foil by 2025.
It's estimated that it's enough to produce batteries for one million electric vehicles (on average about 100 kWh per vehicle).
Within another five years - by 2030, the output will increase to 500 GWh per year. We guess that it means that there will be multiple recycling/production facilities.
"By early 2022, Redwood will announce a site for our North American battery materials manufacturing facility, aiming to produce 100 GWh/year of cathode active materials and anode foil for one million electric vehicles by 2025. By 2030, we expect our production output to scale to 500 GWh/year of materials which would enable enough batteries to power five million electric vehicles or nearly half of the US’ annual vehicle production."
In late July, Redwood Materials announced a $700 million external investment round, which indicates that the project is in a really advanced stage.
The company also revealed at the time that it already partnered with Panasonic at the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada and Envision AESC in Tennessee (Nissan's battery supplier), as well as Amazon.
We can assume that Redwood Materials will try to become the main supplier to Tesla.
"Redwood is currently developing processes to produce battery materials to resell into the battery supply chain. We’ve partnered with Panasonic at the Gigafactory, Envision AESC in Tennessee, and with Amazon to recycle EV and other lithium-ion batteries and e-waste from parts of their businesses, among others.
Last month, we announced our plans to triple the size of our Carson City facilities to 550,000 sq. ft., build another site on 100 acres in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, and create more than 500 additional jobs in the next couple years. With this round we’ll be able to significantly expand our capabilities and create new battery materials in the US for the first time."