Tesla Motors co-founder JB Straubel left that firm in 2019 to pour his power into a comparatively unknown EV battery recycling startup known as Redwood Supplies. Tesla went on to dominate the information cycle 12 months after 12 months, whereas the title of Redwood has been a drop within the media bucket. Nonetheless, 4 years and $4 billion later, all people is speaking about EV battery recycling and issues are popping over at Redwood.
Buyers Pour One other $1 Billion Into EV Battery Recycling
Straubel based Redwood Supplies in 2017 whereas nonetheless at Tesla. The most recent information from Redwood is a brand new $1 billion Collection D spherical of fairness funding, introduced earlier this week. Redwood plans to make use of the money infusion to construct up its lithium-ion battery supplies recycling operations within the US. The purpose is to offer home EV battery producers with an all-important onshore supplies provide chain to qualify for advantages beneath the 2022 Inflation Discount Act.
EV battery recycling additionally helps to fulfill environmental issues over the lithium provide chain. Lithium-ion batteries require lithium and different substances that require mining, together with floor mines and open pit mines. The impacts of lithium extraction are additionally amplified by means of giant open-air lagoons.
Regardless of all of the impacts, lithium mining has not been a selected concern within the US for many years. The nation has had only one lithium mine in operation because the Nineteen Sixties. Nonetheless, that’s altering on account of rising electrical automobile demand and federal insurance policies favoring onshore provides of crucial supplies. A new lithium mine is already beneath building in Nevada regardless of an uproar of protest amongst native tribes and different environmental stakeholders. A second mine can also be proposed for North Carolina.
$2 Billion Extra For EV Battery Recycling & Bidenomics
Because the environmental impacts of lithium mining loom into view, auto producers are scrambling for extra sustainable provide chain options. EV battery recycling is there to assist, and it’s been a busy 12 months for Redwood. The Collection D spherical beat an earlier estimate of $700 million by a protracted shot. The recent swarm of capital provides $1 billion to a different $1 billion beforehand raised.
In February, the Vitality Division’s Mortgage Packages Workplace added to the funding pot when it confirmed a $2 billion conditional mortgage dedication for Redwood to construct out its manufacturing campus in McCarran, Nevada. Assuming that Redwood meets the circumstances of the mortgage, that’s $4 billion all collectively.
The plan is to recycling spent batteries and get well scrap supplies from factories to provide copper foil for EV battery anodes and energetic supplies for the cathodes, making McCarren the primary such facility within the US (far more CleanTechnica protection is right here).
EV Battery Recycling: It’s Difficult
The McCarren facility additionally handles end-of-life batteries from different client items, together with cellphones, laptops, and energy instruments, together with different digital waste. Presumably, spent EV batteries will account for an growing proportion of Redwood’s feedstock as extra EV battery packs attain the top of their lifespans.
That has already difficult issues. “Present regulatory frameworks weren’t meant to handle recycling pathways for giant electrical automobile battery packs,” Redwood explains. The price of transportation can also be a sticking level, together with the price of delivery spent batteries from an out-of-life automobile to a recycling middle.
As for that $2 billion from the Vitality Division, the Mortgage Packages Workplace was set up by Congress in the course of the Bush administration, tasked with stepping in to assist carry new excessive danger, excessive reward energy-related applied sciences to market. Now it’s a cog within the wheel of Bidenomics, the place it has taken up the accountability for guaranteeing that the advantages of its loans ripple out to rank and file staff.
“Redwood Supplies is predicted to create roughly 3,400 good-paying building jobs and make use of roughly 1,600 full-time staff,” the Mortgage Packages Workplace defined in a press launch dated February 9, 2023. “As well as, Redwood Supplies will depend on a building workforce comprised of union, Minority and/or Lady-Owned Enterprise Enterprises.”
“LPO works with all debtors to create good-paying jobs with robust labor requirements throughout building, operations, and all through the lifetime of the mortgage and to stick to a powerful Neighborhood Advantages Plan,” they added.
Will It Make A Distinction?
EV battery recycling can have a major influence on the home battery provide chain, if all goes in line with plan. The Vitality Division expects that supplies from Redwood will assist the manufacture of greater than 1 million new electrical autos yearly within the US.
That might account for a big portion of EV manufacturing within the coming years. Complete annual automobile manufacturing within the US has bounced across the 10 million plus-or-minus mark in recent times. The Vitality Division anticipates that EVs will take a 35% share by 2030, up from their present share of two%.
“To fulfill elevated demand for lithium-ion batteries, recycling will play an more and more necessary position in battery supplies manufacturing,” the Vitality Division notes. “On common, Redwood can get well higher than 95% of the crucial battery components in an end-of-life battery (together with lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and copper), after which use these metals to fabricate anode and cathode parts domestically for U.S. battery cell producers.”
No matter Occurred To JB Straubel?
In the meantime, Redwood has already laid plans to construct a second EV battery recycling campus close to Charleston, South Carolina.
“Just like our Nevada operations, Redwood’s South Carolina operations might be 100% electrical and received’t use any fossil gas in our processes (we won’t even pull a fuel line to the location),” the corporate defined in a press launch final 12 months.
EV battery recycling is sort of a switcheroo for JB Straubel, who joined Tesla Motors in time to introduce the corporate’s first automobile, the Roadster, in 2008. The $100,000 electrical two-seater sported 1000’s of 18650 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries beneath the hood. These are the identical sort of batteries utilized in laptops and different digital gadgets, measuring simply 66 millimeters lengthy and 18 millimeters in diameter.
Tesla Motors was integrated in 2003 because the creation of Martin Eberhard and Marc Tapenning (see full CleanTechnica protection right here). Straubel joined in 2004 as Chief Expertise Officer and stayed till 2019.
“JB Straubel wasn’t simply Tesla’s CTO — he invented the carmaker’s core applied sciences,” ran the headline at CNBC when Straubel left.
“His title is on a majority of patents that Tesla filed, particularly referring to electrical automobile batteries — security, structure, monitoring and energy administration,” added CNBC reporter Lora Kolodny.
Now he’s again at Tesla, having been elected to the Board of Administrators at a shareholder assembly final Might.
“Straubel joined Tesla in 2004 and spent 14 years because the chief know-how officer. He has been credited with Tesla’s battery cell design and in addition led the development and idea of Gigafactory Nevada and the manufacturing of Mannequin 3,” notes Reuters.
Maybe Straubel can train a chilled affect over Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s social media habits, however that is still to be seen.
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Picture: Proposed EV battery recycling campus close to Charleston, South Carolina (courtesy of Redwood Supplies).
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