Tesla Cofounder’s Recycling Startup Plans To Become EV Battery Material Powerhouse

Redwood Materials plans to construct a $1B plant to manufacture cathode- and anode materials for electric car batteries, starting in 2025.
Redwood Materials is a battery recycling company that was founded by JB Straubel (the former tech chief at Tesla) and planned to go beyond the mere recovery of valuable materials from old lithium-ion batteries and invest over $1 billion in a U.S. manufacturing plant that will produce materials necessary for electric vehicles.
The business venture is based in Carson City, Nevada. In July, it raised $700,000,000 to accelerate the recovery of lithium and cobalt. Redwood will locate a battery materials plant at a site in 2022. The plant can produce 100 gigawatt-hours of cathode material and enough anode foil to manufacture a million electrified vehicles each year by 2025. The company stated that the plant will employ approximately 1,000 people and achieve a fivefold increase in annual output by 2030.
Redwood will be producing strategic battery materials in America, first supplying partners in battery cell manufacturing with anode foil and cathode activate materials,” CEO Straubel wrote in the post. “We intend to transform the lithium-ion supply chain through large-scale production of these domestic materials from as many as possible and supplemented with sustainably-minded material. The company’s plan coincides with an initiative by the Biden Administration to significantly expand production and sell electric cars as part of its efforts to combat global warming. To do so, it is necessary to increase supplies of materials from around the globe, expand production of U.S. battery packs and localize the production of components that go in battery cells. The current output of the anode- and cathode material each cell requires is mainly in Asia.
According to Pitchbook, Redwood, which has raised more than $740 million since its inception in 2017, is calculated to be worth $3.7 billion. It uses proprietary processes that separate the commodity materials from old batteries or electronics scrap received by partners such as Panasonic and Envision AESC. The company also owns Proterra, an electric bus builder, and ERI, North America’s largest e-waste recycler.
Straubel said that the company processed 10,000 tonnes of refuse in 2020 at its Nevada Gigafactory facilities and would “recycle many gigawatt-hours” of material this year. Depending on their size, one gigawatt-hour of battery material could be enough to charge between 10,000-20,000 electric vehicles.
Straubel, a Tesla employee, was responsible for overseeing the design of Tesla’s battery pack, motors, and other components, starting with the 2008 Roadster. He also managed the huge Gigafactory in Sparks (Nevada), the largest U.S. battery factory. He left Tesla in late 2019.
Straubel stated that “To make electric vehicles and energy storage products fully sustainable and affordable,” we must close the loop at the end of their life. “This involves more than just recycling batteries. It also means refining the materials that we have recovered and then making them into precision battery materials.
Redwood Materials is intensifying the recycling of scrap materials as well as consumer battery cells. This allows for the recovery of lithium, nickel, cobalt, and other valuable metals.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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