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California Innovators Lead the Way with New EV Battery Recycling Facility


For those driving electric vehicles (EVs) in California, particularly Fords and Volvos, recycling their batteries as they reach the end of their life cycle is set to become more accessible thanks to a battery recycling initiative spearheaded by JB Straubel.

Straubel, a cofounder of EV pioneer Tesla and its former chief for technological development, recently presented his plan to collect and recycle used battery packs from electric and hybrid vehicles manufactured by Ford and Volvo.

Staubel’s Redwood Materials launched its online portal for Californian auto dealers and dismantlers last February 17th. Considered the first program of its kind concerning battery recycling within the state, it seeks to identify battery packs approaching their end of life and ship them to recycling plants in neighboring Nevada. The key facility is located at Redwood’s headquarters in Carson City.

Through the recycling process, the company is set to extract valuable elements like cobalt, lithium, and nickel, then process them for reuse in new lithium-ion (LiOn) battery cells manufactured in plants throughout the United States. Through this closed-loop recycling process, Redwood Materials aims to reduce the amount of key battery elements sourced from overseas, ensure the sustainability of the EV sector, at least in the United States, and make EVs more affordable for the general public. 

EV batteries contain a variety of minerals that will play a vital role in a greener, low-carbon future, particularly now that nations are surging towards a world powered with clean energy. In the long run, Redwood estimates that it can recover approximately 6GwH-worth of used batteries, scrap material, and electronics per year. This is enough to build new battery packs for around 60,000 EVs.

For his part, California governor Gavin Newsom believes that Redwood Materials’ foray into the EV battery recycling business is a key example of how California – currently the largest domestic market for EVs and clean power technology – is leading the way when it comes to sustainable manufacturing practices, especially in partnership with leading corporations and innovative thinkers.

While the state government won’t be funding Redwood’s initiative, the company works closely with government agencies like the California EPA for the streamlined collection of used battery packs. Likewise, most of the operational costs, including shipping and handling, are shouldered jointly by Ford and Volvo.

Ford, in particular, has invested $50 million into Redwood Materials as of September 2021. According to Ford CEO Jim Farley, this partnership is an essential milestone in America’s ongoing shift towards more sustainable and carbon-neutral vehicular manufacturing.

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