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Tesla co-founder’s processing EV battery minerals

Posted on
November 23, 2022
Peter McGuthrie

Electrical car batteries are shortly turning into one of the vital essential commodities within the U.S. Mineral processing operations are largely occurring abroad, aside from one firm created by a earlier Tesla founder that’s now delving into cathode and anode processing. 

Above: Redwood Supplies will produce cathode materials for Panasonic. Picture: Redwood Supplies

Tesla co-founder J.B. Straubel is now within the battery recycling enterprise together with his firm Redwood Supplies, which recycles previous batteries to create lithium-ion batteries for automobiles, based on Bloomberg and a press launch. The corporate lately introduced a partnership with Panasonic to provide billions of {dollars} in battery {hardware}, marking the primary main processed cathode contract to return to the U.S.

The cathode materials makes up round a 3rd of an EV battery pack, and Redwood Supplies will provide a Panasonic manufacturing facility in Kansas Metropolis, Kansas with the processed mineral beginning in 2025. Moreover, many of the Kansas Metropolis plant’s battery cells will probably be destined for U.S. automaker Tesla — one other main accomplice of Redwood’s.

“Panasonic has been a accomplice for a few years, however that is very important,” Straubel mentioned in an interview. “This can be a giant portion of their cathode provide. It’s such an impactful announcement for the U.S. provide chain typically — and naturally for us as an organization.”

Straubel’s time at Tesla led him to acknowledge a rising want for the supplies wanted to make EV batteries, not lengthy earlier than Redwood grew to become the biggest lithium battery recycler within the U.S. From there, Redwood branched out into processing and producing anode and cathode supplies, arguably an equally obligatory course of.

Panasonic’s cathode materials from Redwood will probably be produced utilizing 100% recycled cobalt, and 25-30 p.c of recycled nickel and lithium, although Straubel didn’t share the place the remainder of the plant’s supplies will come from. Cobalt stays an expensive and controversial mineral for EV batteries, with the overwhelming majority of the useful resource coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo the place its mining operations have been flagged for human rights violations.

President Joe Biden’s Inflation Discount Act additionally requires half of a battery’s minerals to be recycled in North America or mined from a free-trade agreement-friendly nation — supporting home operations corresponding to these at Redwood Supplies.

“We had been already going at supersonic speeds,” Straubel mentioned of the manufacturing provisions in Biden’s local weather plan. He in contrast their accelerating qualities for the recycled supplies trade to “what occurs in the event you connect a rocket engine to supersonic airplane.”

Cathode supplies play an enormous function in EV pricing too, and Redwood is planning to convey its cathode manufacturing as much as round 100 Gigawatt hours per 12 months by 2025 — or the equal of about a million EVs.

The corporate has three recycling factories close to Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, and cathode and anode materials processing are solely set to change into more and more wanted with rising EV reputation within the coming years.

Anode and cathode supplies are “simply an extremely excessive proportion of the price of the automotive,” based on Straubel. “Because the world is shifting to electrification, there’s going to be a little bit of a brand new vocabulary and new record of elements that everybody will get conversant in.”


Supply: Bloomberg / Redwood Supplies

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