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Elon Musk’s former right-hand man is taking the next big step in his plan to make EVs cheaper by recycling old batteries

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Redwood Materials employees taking a battery module apart.Redwood Materials employees taking a battery module apart.

Redwood Materials

  • The EV battery recycling giant just announced a new plant in South Carolina.
  • The plant will help carmakers get the materials they need to make EV batteries.
  • The news is also critical as car companies race to respond to this summer’s climate law.

Electric vehicle battery recycling giant Redwood Materials is spending $3.5 billion on a new factory, and its location near the heart of the American “battery belt” is crucial to auto companies for a few reasons.

Run by Elon Musk’s former right-hand man at Tesla, JB Straubel, Redwood recycles and refines the many precious materials — like lithium, nickel, and cobalt — found in used lithium-ion batteries from electric cars and consumer electronics, then sends them back into the supply chain.

The company’s new plant, its second, will sit near Charleston, South Carolina. Redwood says it will break ground in the first quarter of 2023, have it up-and-running by the end of the year, and soon have it supply 1 million EVs annually. 

While Redwood’s flagship plant is near its Carson City, Nevada headquarters, this one’s in the “battery belt”: A stretch across the country, particularly in the Southeast, where car companies, battery makers, and more are setting up new EV development shops.

Redwood MaterialsRedwood recycles and refines the many precious materials — like lithium, nickel, and cobalt — found in used lithium-ion batteries from electric cars and consumer electronics

Redwood Materials

Ford established its BlueOval City campus in Tennessee and two battery plants in Kentucky. GM, through its Ultium Cells joint venture with LG Energy Solution, is also investing in battery-making in Tennessee. Panasonic is building a new battery factory in Kansas. Hyundai is investing in EVs and battery production in Georgia.  

Redwood’s ramp-up is also crucial as the auto industry races to comply with this summer’s massive climate law, which requires that car companies source and build certain percentages of their EVs domestically if they want their vehicles to qualify for tax credits.

But even without federal encouragement, the industry has worked to bring the various parts of the all-new EV battery supply chain to the US in order to drive down materials costs, and cut the sticker price for buyers.

With more and more demand for the materials to make these things, taking advantage of recycling can ease a supply crunch and eventually drive down costs. The more materials the industry can put back into the supply chain, the better. 

Redwood takes the work a step further than many recyclers by next, remanufacturing the materials.

“The goal is to make the most sustainable battery materials,” said Jackson Switzer, Redwood senior director of business development and one of Insider’s 100 People Transforming Business. “To make the most sustainable battery materials, we need to get as much recycled nickel, cobalt, and lithium as we can into the front end of the system. You’ve got to scale the front end of the system, which is effectively, recycling.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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