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Batteries

Volkswagen, Audi Choose Redwood Materials As Battery Recycling Partner

Battery recycling is critical to moving the EV revolution forward and making every electric car a sustainable transportation choice.

Volkswagen of America and Audi have chosen Redwood Materials as their battery recycling partner to recover and recycle EV battery packs from their network of over a thousand dealers in the United States. Redwood will bring the deleted packs to its Carson City, Nevada, factory, where more than 95% of the metals found in these batteries — including nickel, cobalt, lithium, and copper — will be recovered and used to remanufacture anode and cathode components. Those components will be sent back to US battery cell manufacturers like Panasonic.

Redwood Materials is rapidly becoming the go-to battery recycling company for several automakers including Toyota, Ford, and Volvo. Under the deal, the new EV battery recycling collaboration will also integrate prototype batteries from Volkswagen’s research facilities such as the Battery Engineering Lab in Chattanooga. It has also expanded into the battery materials production business.

The company announced plans in September 2021 to build a $2 billion factory that will produce cathodes and anode foils up to a projected volume of 100 gigawatt-hour per year’s worth of materials — enough for one million electric car batteries — by 2025. In January, Panasonic said Redwood will start supplying it with copper foil produced from recycled materials, a critical component of the anode side of a battery cell. Redwood is also planning to expand and add another factory on the east coast to better serve Toyota and other regional partners.

The deal with Volkswagen of America and Audi further expands Redwood’s market share in North America. Volkswagen of America and Audi didn’t disclose what volume of batteries they will supply to Redwood. If the automakers hit their EV targets, it promises to provide a significant bump in its business, says TechCrucnch. VOA expects 55% of its US sales to be battery-electric cars by 2030.

“The transition to electric transportation and clean energy is coming and the batteries powering these technologies present an incredible opportunity. As more and more batteries reach end-of-life each year, an increasing and infinitely recyclable resource becomes available,” Redwood Materials founder and CEO JB Straubel said in a statement. “Redwood and Volkswagen Group of America share a vision to create a domestic, circular supply chain for batteries that will help improve the environmental footprint of lithium ion batteries, decrease cost and, in turn, increase access and adoption of electric vehicles.”

The Battery Recycling Takeaway

Strauble’s words about a “circular supply chain” are the key to this arrangement. People who listen to Faux News like to say that when EV batteries die, the owners just drive them into the nearest lake or river and walk away. Those people simply lack the ability to comprehend what a huge paradigm shift a circular economy represents. If humans are to survive on this planet, they will have to adopt the notion of recycling and reusing precious resources. The age of constantly ripping materials from the Earth, using them, and then throwing them away is over. Redwood Materials is the face of what’s next.

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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